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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

After the pandemic, an opportunity to ‘reset’ the Centro, say activists

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Newly arriving bars were bad neighbors for private residents who lived on the same block. Photo: Courtesy

One of the most important lessons from the pandemic is the importance of public health, and how our own behavior is a factor in preventing or spreading illness.

That’s the message from Todos Somos Merida, whose anti-noise campaign targeted the very nightclubs and bars that disappeared early on during the coronavirus lockdown.

This unprecedented crisis offers us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves, point out members of the citizen collective.

As the economy slowly reopens, Todos Somos asks society to reflect on actions aimed at achieving a sustainable balance between business activity and community health.

“Today the main issue is the health emergency. Isolation, quarantine, social distancing, deprivation and economic loss are recurring themes in the media, along with phrases such as ‘reflection time,’ ‘raise awareness,’ ‘moment of introspection,’ ‘opportunity for change,’ ‘time to rebuild ourselves,'” reads an open letter from the anti-noise group.

Despite good intentions — creating a dynamic city center — residents lost sleep because bar owners have been allowed to dominate city blocks with loud music. Complainers were derided as entitled expat retirees with unrealistic expectations of living in a compact downtown. But Todos Somos is made up of local residents, many raising families in neighborhoods that were quiet before former homes were allowed to be converted into all-night party palaces.

When the coronavirus crisis forced an economic shutdown, bars and cantinas were the first to be shuttered, and the Centro returned to the quiet atmosphere it was known for until about five or six years ago.

“Now, after this world event, we would like to ask if this mandatory strike really gives us a guideline for an opportunity for change and reconstruction in the area,” Todos Somos wrote.

It is necessary to cement these ideas in practice to see if the shutdown is truly a “reset” and a new beginning that prioritizes sustainability and public health.

Vaccines, drugs and medical care are not enough.

“We have learned that a determining factor is human behavior. How are we going to take care of ourselves? How are we going to regulate ourselves? How do we go from an ‘I’ to a ‘we’?” wrote Todos Somos. “The pandemic has reminded everyone of their vulnerability.”

“It is vitally important that merchants and business owners involved in the economic revival of what we would like to call the ‘New Historic Center’ question their practices and assess the impact of their behavior and activity on the health of people in and around their businesses or companies,” the group further wrote.

“After this experience, we should not go back to previous ways … The best vaccine seems to be education and re-education. Values ​​such as respect, solidarity, ethics, regulation and harmonious coexistence, must be put into action.”

As its members have clarified several times, the movement is not against bars or against nightlife. What they are asking is that entertainment places that play music be soundproofed for a peaceful coexistence with neighbors who sleep at night.

“A balance must be struck between the development of the economy and the health of the inhabitants,” the open letter concludes.

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