The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday said it is “dismayed” at the disqualification of Vincentian Lornette “Fire Empress” Nedd-Reid from participating in the finals of the Trinidad and Tobago calypso monarch competition because of her nationality.
In a release issued by the state-owned Agency for Public Information, the government said the disqualification could be challenged on several grounds.
“Firstly, Fire Empress is a member of the calypsonian organisation and has been allowed to participate through the preliminaries to the semi-finals of the competition as well as other previous competitions and there is a reasonable expectation that she can go all the way.
“Secondly, she is married to a national of Trinidad and Tobago.
“Thirdly, she is protected under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) not to be discriminated on the grounds of nationality. Article 7 of the RTC articulates ‘Within the scope of application of this Treaty and without prejudice to any special provisions contained therein, any discrimination on grounds of nationality only shall be prohibited.”
The release said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Commerce is in communication with Fire Empress on an on-going basis “so as to keep the matter under review for further action”.
Late Tuesday, the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) kicked Fire Empress out of the competition, saying it is only for nationals of the twin island republic.
Fire Empress has told media in Trinidad and Tobago that while she is married to a man from Tobago and has been living in Trinidad and Tobago for over 15 years and has applied for citizenship, she is yet to complete the process.
The decision to exclude her from the competition came after the organisation received a pre-action protocol letter from lawyers for Lynette “Lady Gypsy” Steele, who narrowly missed out on a place in the final after placing 16th in last Sunday’s semis.
On Wednesday, Minister of Tourism in Kingstown, Cecil “Ces” McKie described the development as “terrible”.
“How could you have somebody competing in your country, winning competitions, not having changed her status, competed in your semi-finals, made it to the finals, you announced her in the finals, and then all of a sudden, you realise that she is not suited to compete in your finals?” McKie said.
“That really cannot stand. I can’t see that standing. You should have known that a long time ago. If it’s a loophole in the system, they will have to fix that after, not before. Certainly not now,” he said.
Fire Empress has said that her lawyer is looking into the decision and that she will file an injunction against the competition taking place if her questions are not answered.
Read earlier story: Fire Empress kicked out of Trini calypso finals because she’s Vincy