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Report: Progreso bar, site of fatal accident, operated illegally

Mayor threatens firing over apparently faulty renovations at corner bar

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A visitor offers prayers where a wall collapsed killed three pedestrians in Yucatan. Photo: La Jornada Maya

Progreso, Yucatan — The Mocambo cantina operated without a valid operating permit and flunked a civil protection inspection three months ago, authorities reported Monday.

The bar was denied a land use permit in November, Diario de Yucatan reported today. Still, the cantina operated daily without interference from city officials.

The front facing Calle 21 lacked joists to support the weight of a new wall, which overlooked the malecon and the beach, according to media reports.

A day after three pedestrians were killed by the bar’s collapsing exterior wall, visitors left flowers or offered prayers at the site.

Meanwhile, Mayor Julián Zacarías Curi threatened to fire any municipal official connected with the tragedy, but said his priority was to pay attention to the families of the deceased.

He did not rule out penalties against the owner of the Cantina Mocambo’s owner if irregularities are detected in the structure. The corner bar had been remodeled and re-opened just weeks before the accident.

A neighbor, Rubén Cisneros Borges, who lives in a house adjoining the cantina, said Sunday afternoon’s tragedy could have been worse. On Saturday, the Mocambo was more crowded with customers.

“Yesterday was not full. On Saturday there were people on the second floor. Yesterday God blessed, there were not so many people,” he said Monday.

The mayor on Monday told a group of reporters that the city is looking for building permits to correspond with the new rooftop palapa bar and the cornice that served as both its railing and a sidewalk overhang.

“We are giving punctual attention to all families, it really is a disgrace and that is where we must work,” said the mayor. “The owner of the restaurant will be 100 percent responsible. He knows that something was wrong by those who built it, and as an authority I will follow up. ” 

While the bar’s owner, Merida businessman Carlos Baeza Manzanero has spoken to the mayor by phone, the manager of the bar was released from custody after being arrested by police.

On social media, a photo shows Mayor Zacarías Curi with Baeza Manzanero at a ribbon-cutting for the palapa bar in October 2018.

Business Chamber President José Roberto Sánchez González distanced the organization from the Mocambo, which was not a member of the Progreso delegation. Of the 170 affiliated businesses, 90 percent are up to date in their civil protection requirements and operating licenses, he said.

The tragedy is a black eye for other Progreso businesses, Sánchez González lamented.

The three bodies were transferred to Mérida after they were identified by family members.

Elvia Lopez, who lost two family members in the accident, said the family cannot afford funeral and burial costs.

“We know it was an accident, we are not blaming anyone at this time, but it is clear that something happened and therefore we ask to know where the owner of the premises is and who will take care of the damage that this has caused,” said Lopez.

The two victims, 6-year-old Scarlett Odisea López López and Kimberly Salazar Juárez, 32, were from Merida.

Kimberly, who was originally from Guadalajara, worked as an English teacher at the American English Center in Merida, where classes were suspended yesterday due to the tragedy.

The third victim was identified as Diego Bojórquez Colli, 31, a street vendor who went by the nickname “Yoyo.” He had earlier visited the restaurant selling DVDs.

Sources: Diario de Yucatan, La Jornada Maya, Progreso Hoy

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