Diaspora

Some carnivals return this year; Haiti scrubs theirs altogether – Amsterdam News

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Despite the fact that the number of fatalities and COVID infection rates are declining, a number of Caribbean governments have decided to play it safe this year and are either canceling or severely scaling back on high revenue-earning annual carnival celebrations this year.
Haiti’s crisis-beleaguered government is the latest to serve notice that this year will be no different from last year. On Sunday, it dashed any hopes of a carnival staging this year, with the culture ministry not only blaming the pandemic for its decision but also the country’s tenuous security situation. The celebrations were to be held this month, ending like in Trinidad and Brazil, just before Ash Wednesday.
“Carnival has always been a traditional and popular festival celebrated in all the large and medium-sized cities of the country. The government, because of the economic difficulties faced by the country, has decided this year not to organize a national carnival, but to support certain town halls who wish to offer their community carnival festivities by evaluating the health and security risks,” the announcement stated.
Haiti, beset by a number of problems including unwanted American and western interference in daily affairs, organized crimes and frequent natural disasters, has encountered serious problems acquiring large amounts of vaccine doses in addition to facing vaccination hesitancy among its 11 million-plus population; hence the reluctance of authorities to allow for a full celebration that includes a massive street carnival.
Down south in Trinidad, authorities there say they will use a limited number of events this year as an experiment in staging large public events in the midst of the pandemic.
Not held in the past two years, the administration of Prime Minister Keith Rowley has decided to allow a limited number of events only for fully vaccinated people. The world class two-day street carnival and some of its associated events have been scrubbed altogether as well as the famous pre-carnival fetes and other public events as fears these will be super spreaders.
For events like concert-type shows which will be allowed, fully vaccinated fans will be placed in socially-distanced safe pods in family and related groups. Capacity would be at 50%.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says he believes this year’s limited edition dubbed as a “Taste of Carnival” can be successfully staged if protocols can be observed. He is also optimistic about large public events making a return later this year.
“We are in full support of the ministry of tourism, culture and the arts to start to reopen the entertainment sector as carefully as possible as they are doing. Whatever risks, they all will be mitigated by the fact that patrons coming into these events are going to be fully vaccinated. I can’t predict what the future will bring at this point in time,” the minister said. “We are taking very brave measures to open up as many sectors in society as possible, especially to those people who are vaccinated.”
In neighboring Guyana, authorities are yet to announce plans for this year even though celebrations including the street costume parade are normally held on Feb. 23. Rates of fatalities and infections have been coming down in the past two weeks after massive spikes in the post-Christmas season that saw an average of more than 1,000 cases daily and up to six deaths daily.
The success story for the region, meanwhile, has to do with the smaller Eastern Caribbean nations like St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica and Antigua.
Antigua, St. Vincent and St. Lucia have all indicated plans to stage normal celebrations this year as officials think they have enough lead time to the mid-year calendar to monitor infections and stage these events successfully. Combined, these smaller islands have recorded less than 150 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic in March of 2020. Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St. Vincent, said on a radio program Sunday that observance would be had this year especially if the vaccine rate can reach 70%.
“Every society needs occasions where you have releases, it’s a catharsis. You are doing work all the time and you have to have something where you let off your energy. There is a need for some kind of collective relief, at least, so we think in the cabinet,” he said.
Haiti’s crisis-beleaguered government is the latest to serve notice that this year will be no different from last year. On Sunday, it dashed any hopes of a carnival staging this year, with the culture ministry not only blaming the pandemic for its decision but also the country’s tenuous security situation. The celebrations were to be held this month, ending like in Trinidad and Brazil, just before Ash Wednesday.
“Carnival has always been a traditional and popular festival celebrated in all the large and medium-sized cities of the country. The government, because of the economic difficulties faced by the country, has decided this year not to organize a national carnival, but to support certain town halls who wish to offer their community carnival festivities by evaluating the health and security risks,” the announcement stated.
Haiti, beset by a number of problems including unwanted American and western interference in daily affairs, organized crimes and frequent natural disasters, has encountered serious problems acquiring large amounts of vaccine doses in addition to facing vaccination hesitancy among its 11 million-plus population; hence the reluctance of authorities to allow for a full celebration that includes a massive street carnival.
Down south in Trinidad, authorities there say they will use a limited number of events this year as an experiment in staging large public events in the midst of the pandemic.
Not held in the past two years, the administration of Prime Minister Keith Rowley has decided to allow a limited number of events only for fully vaccinated people. The world class two-day street carnival and some of its associated events have been scrubbed altogether as well as the famous pre-carnival fetes and other public events as fears these will be super spreaders.
For events like concert-type shows which will be allowed, fully vaccinated fans will be placed in socially-distanced safe pods in family and related groups. Capacity would be at 50%.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says he believes this year’s limited edition dubbed as a “Taste of Carnival” can be successfully staged if protocols can be observed. He is also optimistic about large public events making a return later this year.
“We are in full support of the ministry of tourism, culture and the arts to start to reopen the entertainment sector as carefully as possible as they are doing. Whatever risks, they all will be mitigated by the fact that patrons coming into these events are going to be fully vaccinated. I can’t predict what the future will bring at this point in time,” the minister said. “We are taking very brave measures to open up as many sectors in society as possible, especially to those people who are vaccinated.”
In neighboring Guyana, authorities are yet to announce plans for this year even though celebrations including the street costume parade are normally held on Feb. 23. Rates of fatalities and infections have been coming down in the past two weeks after massive spikes in the post-Christmas season that saw an average of more than 1,000 cases daily and up to six deaths daily.
The success story for the region, meanwhile, has to do with the smaller Eastern Caribbean nations like St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica and Antigua.
Antigua, St. Vincent and St. Lucia have all indicated plans to stage normal celebrations this year as officials think they have enough lead time to the mid-year calendar to monitor infections and stage these events successfully. Combined, these smaller islands have recorded less than 150 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic in March of 2020. Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St. Vincent, said on a radio program Sunday that observance would be had this year especially if the vaccine rate can reach 70%.
“Every society needs occasions where you have releases, it’s a catharsis. You are doing work all the time and you have to have something where you let off your energy. There is a need for some kind of collective relief, at least, so we think in the cabinet,” he said.
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Amsterdam News
2340 Frederick Douglass Blvd.
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212-932-7400

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