Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Glorietas" Protest March in Merida is a Bust

By Edward V. Byrne View Edward V. Byrne's LinkedIn profileView Edward V. Byrne's profile
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A lone protestor at the Cadena de Las Glorietas, displays her barely legible protest of "the monument of the lie". -Photo by Edward Byrne
Several hundred Meridans turned out Saturday afternoon (September 24) for the so-called Cadena de las Glorietas, or “Chain of the Glorietas” march.  The event was staged to protest a controversial underpass which is nearing completion at the intersection of Paseo de Montejo and Circuito Colonias in north central Merida.

The construction project was the scene of violence on July 4 when supporters and opponents of the underpass briefly clashed.  State police were called in to quell the disturbance, but the events have been kept alive by activists.  The march was announced and heavily promoted via social networks, email and in one of Merida’s principal newspapers, El Diario de la Yucatan.  Supporters had predicted that about 6,500 people would show up, but the crowd was a small fraction of that.

There was modest state and municipal police presence along Montejo during the anemic two hour demonstration, which ended just after 7:30 p.m.  Participants were in a festive mood, but the crowd appeared considerably less enthusiastic than during three previous protests against the underpass.  Many wore event T-shirts with the legend, “United Together Against Impunity.”

On Friday (September 23) the United States Consulate in Merida sent an emergency email to U.S. nationals in the city, encouraging them to avoid the march.  It is illegal under Mexican law for a foreigner to participate in the political affairs of the country.  It is not unlawful to observe political events or activities conducted in public venues, provided there is no direct participation.

The underpass at the Glorieta de la Paz is on or ahead of schedule.  City officials originally said it would be opened to traffic around October 1, but there have been no recent announcements.

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