Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 19th 2014 Contents A13
Saturday, July 19, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar paid for
her own flight to Brazil for the World Cup Finals,
she revealed on Thursday, after an event to com-
memorate the life and work of Nelson Mandela.
Speaking to journalists at the Diplomatic Centre
after the event, the PM, who returned from Brazil
on Wednesday, responded to questions the Opposition
had been asking about how the trip was funded and
whether it was appropriate for her to leave T&T
during the passport office crisis.
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PM: I'm no pauper,
I paid for Brazil trip
The star of the show at the presidential
palace in Rio before the World Cup Final
was the PM's eight-year-old grandson,
Kristiano Bissessar, who wore a Spider-
Man mask while meeting heads of state,
including President Vladimir Putin of
Russia, Chancellor Angela Merkel of
Germany and President Dilma Rousseff of
The leaders looked thrilled to meet the
young boy and the PM revealed she had
been unaware that her grandson had
packed the Spider-Man mask in the car
with him when they left their hotel.
"It was amazing. He got dressed that
morning, my son helped him get dressed.
We went in two separate vehicles to the
venue. They took me inside and then they
were bringing my grandson in and when I
looked at him he was wearing these
things," a smiling Persad-Bissessar said.
"When we left the hotel he was not
wearing them and I did not know he'd
taken them into the car. I do not wish to be
immodest, but he really stopped the
The PM revealed she had urged him to
take the mask off when meeting the world
leaders and that Rousseff had then lifted
the mask to reveal the boy's face.
Asked whether it was against protocol,
she replied "What was against protocol?
Wearing a Spider-Man mask? But my poor
grandson, he's not a politician. He's not
bound by protocol."
She said Kristiano was the main reason
for the trip, having begged her for weeks
to take a break from her duties.
"He asked, 'Grandma, Grandma, why you
can't go, is it because you're Prime
Minister?' and I said, 'Yes, people will be
upset if I go.' He said, 'But why don't you
just tell them you're going with me? It's
just a few days.'
"Being PM, yes I have a tremendous
duty and a job, but I also have an
obligation and love (for my family)" the
Prime Minister said.
"Some raised the issue of who paid for
my visit," she told reporters. "And I can
only help but smile. I've been Prime Minister
for four years. I collect a salary. I'm not a
pauper---thank you, Lord. I studied very
hard, I've worked very hard, I still work
hard. Before I became a Prime Minister I
was a practising lawyer and an MP. Can I
not afford to pay for a ticket for myself and
my grandson and my son to attend a World
Jet-lagged, by her own admission, she
barely concealed her irritation at the ques-
tions. Her tone indicated she felt offended
at suggestions that she had taken the trip
as a "free jaunt or joyride," words she attrib-
uted to Opposition leader Keith Rowley after
pictures of her trip appeared across social
"Let me make it very clear. I said I will
not spend government money.
"Whose money am I spending? I'm
spending money that I earned. I paid for
the airline tickets.
"The government of Brazil offered us
their usual hospitality and courtesies as a
visiting head of government, so they pro-
vided us with ground transport and security.
They provided us with tickets to the stadium
for the matches we attended, and they pro-
vided us with accommodation."
This was the first time the PM had
revealed that her son, Kris, accompanied
her on the trip, as well as her eight-year-
old grandson, Kristiano, who was pho-
tographed wearing a Spiderman mask as he
met world leaders during the trip.
The PM said she attended several games
but wasn't supporting a specific team.
"I love any team that plays good football.
I loved Colombia. I loved Costa Rica. I loved
Germany," she said.
Asked about allegations by former Cabinet
minister Jack Warner's newspaper Sunshine
that Persad-Bissessar had travelled to Brazil
to get some "dirt" on Warner from FIFA
president Sepp Blatter about the corruption
investigation, the PM said she had travelled
to Brazil only to watch football.
"I really, really love soccer," she said, "and
I thought this might be the only time I could
attend, because this is the closest it may
be to our region and our zone."
On criticisms that she had neglected
prime ministerial duties by holidaying during
the passport crisis, she said, "Look, it's the
first time in four years I've taken what you
may call a vacation with my family, with
my children---and I don't regret one moment
COST OF TICKETS
Prices for match tickets for
international supporters ranged from
US$90 for a category 3 group game to
US$990 for a category 1 seat for the
final, according to the official FIFA Web
site. According to Forbes magazine,
however, tickets for quarter-final games
cost US$1,000 on average.
Copa Airlines flights from Port-of-
Spain to Rio de Janeiro via Panama City
(a 17-hour trip including layovers) retail
at US$1,877 during peak season on
Hospitality packages from the official
provider, including matches from the
beginning of the tournament to the end,
retailed at US$8,700.
KRISTIANO STARS AS SPIDER-MAN
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