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Mérida cancels virtual Carnaval, promising to focus on COVID instead

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

Mayor Renán Barrera Concha has announced the cancellation of Mérida’s 2021 Carnaval, which had already been scaled back to a virtual program.

The Mayor made the announcement via Twitter, promising that the Carnaval’s budget will be used to fight the pandemic and reactivate the economy. 

The move comes just a few days after the Mayor announced that the city would be holding a hybrid Carnaval, with online entertainment and a festive caravan that would traverse the city.

However, the Mayor’s plans soon came under heavy criticism from politicians such as Councilman Fausto Sánchez, who argued that the money earmarked for the Carnaval would be better spent buying COVID-19 vaccines and reinforcing medical institutions.

The cancellation of the 2021 Carnaval gained swift support.


Mérida held its first Carnaval in 1578, and in the 21st century, controversially moved from the city center to fairgrounds south of the city. In 2021, coronavirus concerns further removed celebrations from the streets, forcing it mainly online with a few in-person caravans, until even that was an untenable plan.

Carnaval is rooted in the Catholic tradition of preparing for the solemnity of Lent. But today, Carnaval is more of a secular tradition, filled with music, dancing and parades with floats advertising beer and soft drinks.

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