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The Veracruz Carnival: Out Of The Streets And Onto The Internet

From face-to-face to digital event: the 2021 Veracruz Carnival.

A carnival-less Veracruz is not Veracruz. So, against all odds, the famous annual Carnival will occur amid the COVID-19 pandemic — as a digital event to comply with health regulations.

Virtual events are not unique: Tlacotalpan’s Candlemas Fair was also held online, as will be Papantla’s Summit Tajín.

The carnival organizers decided to let those interested in the carnival activities enjoy it from the comfort of their homes because the municipality of Veracruz, where the event usually takes place, concentrates the majority of cases of coronavirus infections and deaths.

“It is a shame that, despite the authorities’ efforts, the Carnival will not be celebrated in person. It is understandable, as we do not wish to aggravate the situation due to the pandemic,” said Flypy Morales, president of the LGBT+ non-profit organization Por un Veracruz sin Discriminación, which celebrates its eighth anniversary as formal participants of the Carnival.

“The event has so much meaning to Veracruz that nothing short of the pandemic could have made it to stop. For this very reason, since the end of last year, our organization was very cautious and avoided unnecessary expenses,” said Morales. “We were summoned to participate in a carnival capsule segment, where we will give our experience in the carnival throughout the years.”

The Veracruz Carnival is considered Mexico’s “most joyous” festival and the second most important in Latin America, after that of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Veracruz City council recorded informative capsules in historical sites. (Christian Valera Rebolledo/Café Words.)

Why will the event be digitalized?

The Veracruz Carnival Committee’s authorities, together with the organizing president José Antonio Pérez Fraga, announced in a press conference that after more than 90 years, this would be the first time that the Carnival will be “canceled.”

The Carnival’s official pages will record and broadcast this year’s events, with the fair’s support and participation of former kings and queens. There will be an exhibition of past years’ costumes and clips of previous parades to remember the Carnival’s long history.

“The important thing to do is to maintain the importance of our event without putting anyone at risk. We seek to avoid breaking the Carnival streak, as, in almost a hundred years, it has never been canceled,” said Pérez Fraga. “The most consistent decision with the times we are living through is to launch it online through social media and the Carnival’s website.”

Considered ‘the most joyous in Mexico,’ the Veracruz Carnival will be digital this year. (Christian Valera Rebolledo/Café Words)

Furthermore, the Fair’s Royal Court will have a symbolical crowning. The 2021 Veracruz Carnival is scheduled for Feb. 25-28. It will be the first time the state will not receive visitors from states such as Puebla, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala or Mexico City.

The 2020 Carnival edition was held three weeks before the health emergency declaration due to the pandemic in Mexico. It was held in Veracruz and Boca del Río, with various folk groups, singers, bands, troupes and the public participating in it, seeking to have a good time.

Fernando Yunes Márquez, the Port of Veracruz’s current mayor, made public his stance against holding the Carnival in person due to federal health regulations that prohibit the holding of mass events.

“We seek to rescue joy, color, music and folklore through a digital event in which there will be the usual Carnival events, such as coronations, the troupes’ participation and more. All this, without putting anyone at risk,” said Fernando Yunes in an official statement to the local press.

Veracruz’s officials have done everything possible to make the situation as satisfactory as it would be if it were live, considering an in-person event irresponsible.

The Veracruz Carnival dates back to 1866, when the country was passing through political instability due to the imposition of the Second Mexican Empire by Emperor Maximilian von Habsburg. The people of Veracruz asked the local government for permission to carry out La Fiesta de las Máscaras, a series of dances that people attend in costumes.

(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez. Edited by Carlin Becker)