Friday, October 09, 2020

All of Carnival agrees: "Health comes first"

It would be impossible to keep people safe from infection in these crowds

Reactions to yesterday's announcement that Carnival 2021 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife has been suspended are, as expected, mostly sadness, but support for the suspension is unanimous, as the world of carnival agrees that "health comes first". 

After months of uncertainty, announcements of potential alternative dates and various meetings to find out the feelings of its protagonists, finally, reality has imposed upon the wishes and Santa Cruz de Tenerife will not have Carnival in 2021. This was confirmed yesterday by mayor, José Manuel Bermúdez, along with councilor for fiestas, Alfonso Cabello. Both, flustered, explained what everyone already knew: the sanitary conditions are not suitable to celebrate a massive carnival, outdoors and without social distancing. 

It will be the first time in 60 years that the party has been suspended. "Since 1961, the party as we know it has been organised uninterruptedly," Bermúdez explained. 

The suspension of Carnival in 2021 is bad news for Santa Cruz as the carnival is its main showcase. However, in these times of pandemic, few decisions will have as much support. Yesterday, the carnival groups agreed that, despite being a sad day, "health is above all." 

Maxi Carvajal, director of murga, Diablos Locos, was one of the first to announce that his group would not take part, which is why he supports the decision to suspend carnival. Instead, they will continue with things like collecting food and masks, selling solidarity bracelets or collecting toys for the little ones at the end of the year. They are organising everything via WhatsApp, or in small groups, complying with the safety regulations.

From another of the leading groups, Los Cariocas, president, José Manuel González, recalled that the troupes were the first to renounce the contests. “It was clear from the beginning that there would be no carnival. It was something to be expected, but health comes first." The president of Los Cariocas proposes that 2021 is a kind of sabbatical year, in which "to gain strength" and thus, "in 2022 to come out with even more desire." .

Other leading groups in the carnival are the rondallas, and one of the most awarded, El Orfeón de La Paz, also supports the decision to suspend the party. "We cannot fight against the disease", affirms its president Esteban Afonso. “It is complicated, but we have no choice but to assume what the authorities tell us. We have to be patient, and we know that, in the event of some kind of celebration, we will have three months to prepare, just as Fiestas have promised ”, he adds. Like the rest, Afonso has words for all the people behind the groups. "There are a lot of people behind it, companies that have invested in fabrics or seamstresses, I don't know how they are going to fix it." In any case, "we will continue working within our possibilities and we will continue to assemble the repertoire."

In the group of designers, Santi Castro, admits that, although it is a sad and rare situation, “you have to put health and help people before Carnival. That is something that I have very clear ”. Castro draws attention to the fact that even if carnival was celebrated, "we depend on tourism and tourists don't come, so celebrating it isn't going to help us much either." As for his work as a designer, “like the rest, we are also very affected, perhaps more because we do not have any kind of help and we depend on commercial firms, firms that right now we do not know in what conditions they are, with ERTE or directly closed ”. He also believes that this will make, in 2022, "we go out with a tremendous desire to go crazy with Carnival."

María Díaz, of Marco y María, who directed the Carnival 2020 galas, also supports the suspension. “If festivals such as Fallas, the April Fair or San Fermines have been suspended, it was logical that our Carnival would also be suspended. It's a decision that had to be made out of responsibility, it's very sad, but the main thing is to overcome this health crisis”. As for whether the City Council has contacted the firm to address the announced Carnival tribute gala, Díaz admits that she has not had any news since the first meeting she had with the Councilor for Fiestas at the beginning of the summer. "I imagine that they will already have people who are working on it, but they have not spoken with us".

Another of the institutions that yesterday also expressed their regret for the suspension of the festival was the Aula Cultura del Carnaval. Its manager, Pedro Mengíbar, wanted to send a positive message. “It is news that seems logical and prudent to us, but because it is expected, doesn't exempts us from sadness. COVID-19 has, from today, the dubious honor, together with the Spanish Civil War, of being the only things that have managed to interrupt carnival throughout our history”.