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Practise was postponed yesterday at the Desperadoes panyard after one of the workers contracted to move the steelpan rack was shot during gang warfare at Rudolph Link Road in Laventille. Atiba Pantin, of Diego Martin, died while receiving treatment at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital. His killing pushed the toll to 17. A report said around 11 am, Pantin, who was hired by a contractor, was moving pan racks along with four other men when gunfire rang out. 

Chavez Best, the driver who employed Pantin, was also shot in the upper right side of his body, police said. Investigators said Best remained in stable condition up to late yesterday. Faced with high crime and violence in the Laventille community in 2009, Desperadoes had to flee their panyard’s Auditorium and Theatre Centre to hold practice sessions in Belmont.

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This is so, so tragic and outrageous. What a shame! When even the revered Desperadoes Steel Orchestra members and those involved in its functioning risk their life and limb doing what they love doing, bringing fame and recognition to their community and providing an outlet for the youths to engage in a worthwhile activity, are forced to relocate in order to continue with their practice sessions, due to despicable and senseless acts of violence perpetrated by the lawless gangs who seem to have the order of the day.

Law and order got to be established and rigorously enforced in all high crime areas. Left unchecked, crime and violence are seriously affecting the very fabric of society, family life, including inevitably the steel band family. Let's hope and pray that this situation does not escalate and become systematic throughout other pan community areas in Trinidad & Tobago, or else, this could unfortunately be the beginning of the demise of our beloved and cherished cultural art form, steel pan music.

Well said Val.


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