Adriana Tamariz, fired last week because Mayor Pedro Palacios did not like a performance at a bicentennial concert in San Francisco Plaza, says she is the victim of intolerance and censorship. “I was advised by the mayor’s office that I should announce I was resigning for personal reasons but this is not the case and I refuse to be muzzled by an action meant to stop free artistic expression,” said Tamariz, the city’s cultural director, at a Friday press conference.
Tamariz was fired following a January 24 performance by the multi-media performing group Mestizo which included a statement in support of the October indigenous protests and criticized the government for its response. “It is totally unacceptable that I was asked to resign for a message that artists expressed on stage,” she said. “You, Mr. Mayor, have set a disastrous precedent for the city and contribute to the prospect of censorship becoming the daily norm. This is a violation of the basic right of free speech by citizens which, in my feeling, is a fundamental part of democracy.”
In an earlier statement, Palacios called the Mestizo’s performance “inappropriate” and held Tamariz responsible for allowing it. Later, he backpedaled, saying the firing involved “other administrative issues.”
Sponsors hope to build a Cuenca Carnival parade tradition
The sponsors of Cuenca Carnival parade want to take the event to the next level. “In many Latin America cities, the parade that marks the beginning of Carnaval is the prominent event of the entire celebration,” says Rodrigo Matute, president of Azuay Union of Journalists, one of the sponsors. “We want to establish Cuenca’s parade as the largest in Ecuador, on the level of the Day of Innocents masquerade parade.”
The Azuay Union of Journalists and the other sponsors, the Amistad Club and the municipality of Cuenca, are urging more groups to participate in the February 22 parade. “Last year’s event was much larger than the 2018 edition and we plan for an even larger presentation this year,” Matute says. “We are not trying to replace the traditional fun of Carnaval in Cuenca, the throwing of foam and water, we just want to add to the fun and to the anticipation of the season.” Like the Day of the Innocents, he said the parade will a focus on comedy and elaborate costumes, with the parades in Brazil serving as the model.
El Centro street to repedestrianize
Beginning Monday, February 3, Calle Padre Aguirre, between Presidente Córdova and Mariscal Sucre, will once again be closed to vehicular traffic. The street had been pedestrianized in January 2019 with the opening of San Francisco Plaza but was reopened on an experimental basis to traffic in November.
The municipal transportation department said that the experiment had concluded and it had decided to return the stretch to pedestrian-only status. “We reviewed the data we had collected from November through January and determined that making the street an area for pedestrians and bicycles was in the public’s best interest,” a transportation official said.