When the Mazatlan Carnival was suspended due to smallpox


The Carnival festivities corresponding to 1912 were scheduled to take place from Saturday the 17th to Tuesday the 20th of February. The Carnival Committee and its president, Mr. Guillermo Laveaga, were very active with the preliminary events of the party.

It should be noted that Laveaga had been King of Carnival in the 1907 edition and in 1912 he put all his experience at the head of the Committee, raising funds and enthusiastically carrying out his work. On Saturday, January 13, he carried out his carnival demonstration with the joy of the youth who traveled aboard some carts pulled by beasts and others aboard gasoline cars. 

In one of the wagons, they hung the bad-tempered puppet that would be incinerated, while in most of the vehicles joy traveled with the enthusiasm of the boys and beautiful girls dressed in fancy outfits. The demonstration, which was enlivened by the music of papaquis, shouts, the explosion of rockets and triques, ended in the Machado square, in whose kiosk the band of the Eighth Battalion played a serenade.

Among the attendees appeared Miss Alejandra Ramírez Urrea, elected queen of the carnival in the computation held on January 6. Of course, we are referring to the same Alejandra Ramírez who inspired the composer Enrique Mora to compose the Vals Alejandra, commissioned by the young Rafael Oropeza in 1907. On this occasion Alejandra was present in the Machado square as queen; In her courtship were Miss Conde and Miss Butchartd. 

But bad humor and tragedy, powerful enemies of joy, were not duly exorcised; because in Mazatlan, in a deaf and painful way, a terrible smallpox epidemic was incubating that began to wreak havoc among the population of the rancherías near the port and in the marginal and unhealthy areas of the city.

Thus the presence of evil grew and on February 2, 1912, the extraordinary session of the Mazatlan City Council had as its sole issue the discussion and approval of a point of agreement, at the proposal of its first alderman, Mr. Fernando Gregoire, to request the suspension of carnival parties; petition based on the increase in cases of smallpox in the surrounding towns, and on the understanding that the massive influx of people to the festival would result in the spread of the disease in the city, causing serious damage to the health and lives of its inhabitants.

The request would be subject to prior consultation with the City Council’s Hygiene Commission and with the Political Prefect, Ing. Jesús González Ortega, to jointly propose the suspension measure to the Carnival Committee.

It is clear that the Carnival Committee had its reluctance and more so at the time when it was also asked that the money collected for the festival should be used to support the fight against smallpox. Mr. Guillermo Laveaga and the committee refused such a request, arguing that when the epidemic passed they would organize the party, after Glory Saturday, having passed Lent and the holy days. There was no celebration afterward and in the carnival chronology of more than 123 years of activities, the box corresponding to 1912 appears blank, and since there was no coronation of the queen, the beautiful Alejandra Ramírez does not appear as queen of that smallpox carnival.

Not only the Carnival Committee had its protests. The suspension of the party was also questioned by the business that indicated having stocks acquired for those days; the public who had already bought or rented their costumes and to whom it seemed inconceivable that on this occasion due to smallpox the party would be suspended, also raised their protest.

It is clear that the municipal funds to face the health crisis were insufficient and the hope that the state authorities and the Ministry of Health of the Federal government would help seemed very distant. But the emphasis of those dissatisfied with the suspension of the carnival was to question the order of the City Council and even minimized the presence of the epidemic in the city.

However, as the days of February passed, the cases of variolosses in the population increased and very sad news arrived from affected populations such as Mora Escarbada, El Quelite, La Noria, El Recodo, Villa Unión; and very close to Mazatlan in El Conchi and Hacienda de Palmillas.

But the measures adopted by the City Council were effective because at the request of the president, the carnival party had to wait for the following year and take place at the time indicated by tradition in the calendar.

Disease and even murders have intervened in the maximum party of Mazatlan

There are five occasions in which the Carnival has been postponed, an unprecedented event took place in the middle of the 1944 carnival party, leaving it unfinished because the stain of the assassination of a governor marked the history of this great event

According to Don Enrique Vega Ayala, better known as the Official Chronicler of Mazatlan, the last time a Carnival was stopped was 77 years ago, however, the maximum festival of the Carnival had already been suspended previously.

Every year, Mazatlán dresses in its best clothes to celebrate the traditional Carnival, unfortunately, due to the health situation due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, 2020 will join the records in which this party has been canceled. On the other hand, Vega Ayala recalled that chronologically, the first time the carnival was suspended was in 1903.

“We know that it was suspended in 1903 because the date on which the epidemic that we know as the ‘bubonic plague’ occurs, was precisely at the time of Carnival when the scourge was strongest,” commented the chronicler.

Later, another disease attacked the port, and in 1912 due to smallpox, the preparations were interrupted, leaving Alejandra Ramírez as ‘the queen without a crown’, after remaining as a finalist candidate.

Unlike the two previous dates, in 1915 and 1916, this time due to lack of money, the carnival was canceled two consecutive years, since the Revolution left the city of Mazatlán penniless.

“Then it was suspended in 1915 and 1916 due to economic problems, there was no money, the situation in which the revolution had left Mazatlan, and since the whole country was in turmoil, prevented the party from being organized as it is commonly known,” he added. .

Finally, according to the chronicler himself, an unprecedented event arose in the middle of the 1944 carnival party, leaving it unfinished because the stain of the assassination of a governor marked the history of this great event.

“The last time there was a suspension of the carnival was in 1944, but the party had already started there, the carnival events were held until Sunday to dawn on Monday; it was the carnival dance at the Belmar hotel where Governor Rodolfo was assassinated T. Loaiza and then for reasons of mourning and because it was at the same party, he had just danced with one of the queens, so from that Monday mourning was imposed throughout the State and the party was suspended, “he concluded.

Thus, again due to disease, 2020 is added as the third date on which the carnival suspends its celebration.

Watch History of Mazatlan Carnivals

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Source: reaccioninformativa.com, sonplayas.com, debate.com.mx

The Mazatlan Post