Carnivals in 2022: At risk in Latin America
Faced with a new variant of COVID-19, several countries around the world have questioned if it is a good idea to organize this event this year. What will be the future of carnivals in 2022?
LatinAmerican Post | Theoscar Mogollón
Joy, fun, color... are just a few words that perfectly describe the carnival season around the world, especially in Latin America. Just two months after the start of the year, thousands of cities organize themselves to celebrate one of the most picturesque festivities of all. However, with the arrival of the pandemic and its variants, everything has changed negatively, to the point of having the holding of carnivals in 2022 at risk.
It could be said that Brazil is the maximum representative of these events, since its massive parades always become in the world's spotlight. But on this occasion the authorities of Rio de Janeiro, headed by its mayor Eduardo Paes, decided to suspend their traditional street carnivals, this due to the increase in cases of the Ómicron variant that went from 1% to 13% in the first weeks of January, according to Brazilian media.
Although the announcement of the suspension was made known by the mayor himself after a meeting with representatives of the musical parades ('blocos'), it is worth mentioning that the renowned parade of samba schools called "Sambódromo de Marquês da Sapucaí" would still be maintained standing and with strict requirements for its participants such as the carrying of the vaccination certificate and the negative result of the PCR test. This event is estimated to gather around 70,000 people -in a more controlled environment- by the end of February.
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It is important to remember that for the second year in a row street carnivals in Rio will be canceled due to the pandemic. This succession of outdoor parties runs through almost the entire city and brings together both Brazilians and hundreds of tourists from around the world. 2020 was the last year that this festival was lived to the fullest, where up to 7 million people participated according to figures published by the Mayor's tourism agency, Riotur.
What will the 2022 carnivals be like in the rest of Latin America?
As many know, carnivals are the perfect excuse to go out and enjoy with the family. However, during this 2022 things will not be as light as years ago and attendance control will play an important role in the countries that decide to give the green light to their respective events. Although the most important thing is to prevent and contain the increase in positive cases by COVID, what these festivities bring with them at an economic level is not for less, since with them indirect jobs are generated and both local businesses and tourism itself are promoted in the city.
In Barranquilla, for example, the board of directors in charge of the event decided to suspend the closing parade that usually brings together hundreds of people. But these modifications are not only the fault of the pandemic, but also for economic reasons and the lack of sponsorship to expand logistics. Despite this, the mayor of the city, Carlos Acosta, assured that the carnivals of this 2022 will be held "responsibly, taking care of people's health" and under biosecurity measures.
For its part in Venezuela, specifically in the state of Falcón, the Coro mayor's office confirmed that the carnivals will be held in order to "reinvigorate culture, boost tourism and rescue traditions." And it is that for this they will recover recreational spaces for the enjoyment of the troupes, costumes and floats, in addition to the election of the queen of the school circuits, all this under the respective biosecurity measures and the contribution of tourist promoters to serve the seasonal visitors.
Otherwise, it will happen in Mexico, since several municipalities in the state of Morelos decided to cancel their carnivals for the second year in a row. The arrival in the country of the Ómicron variant, which has been considered worrying and easily spread, was reason enough for the authorities of Jiutepec and Tepoztlán to decide to prioritize the health and integrity of their citizens over their festivities, which are known in the region for receiving between 7 and 8 thousand visitors every weekend.
Similarly, in Panama they do not see the possibility of celebrating carnivals this year, since the authorities are focused solely on containing the spread of the new strain of coronavirus. Without a doubt, what seemed to be a year of recovery from the pandemic is now becoming an extension of the quarantine, to the point of putting the carnivals of 2022 in check. Or, at least, in certain countries.