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The battle over sidewalks in Merida’s Centro

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A banner protesting coffee shop patrons who congregate to smoke in front of a house has caused a stir online. Photo: Facebook

Anti-noise protest banners are not new in Merida, but a larger-than-normal banner on Calle 43 caused a stir on social media when a homeowner stated his objection to a number of aggressions.

Patrons of a Santa Ama coffee shop — not a nightclub — were apparently loitering on the narrow sidewalk outside his home, turning it into a smoking area, leaving butts on the ground, blocking his exits, chatting on cellphones and even tying their dogs, bikes or scooters to his gate. The same can be seen a couple blocks away, where a popular corner cantina’s patrons overflow across the street because smoking is not allowed inside.

Readers on social media did not necessarily sympathize with the homeowner, accusing him of wanting to “privatize” the sidewalk. Because the banner is in both Spanish and English, many jumped to the conclusion that the protestor is a foreigner unaccustomed to the ways of the Centro.

That assumption is wrong. The resident is Yucatecan, and has live there since childhood.

“His family has lived there many generations,” a neighbor said on Facebook.

In front of the house is a parking spot reserved for a member of the household who is handicapped.

“The sidewalk in front of his house is very narrow so if someone parks a bike there and chains it to his wall he can’t get the lady who lives there out in her wheelchair. We had a nice conversation a few weeks ago about it when I parked in front of his house in a hurry. He was super polite. This is basic kindness and manners for us to respect his property and access to it.”

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