May 18, 2007, 9:43 AM
Post #1 of 1
According to news reports, APPO et al are threatening to boycott this year's Guelaguetza (the annual folk dance festival which happens the last two Mondays in July in Oaxaca City). The reports sound dire and conventional wisdom asks "why shut down such a tourism moneymaker?" And indeed, maybe the police and military forces will insure that it goes on. However, many Mexicans believe that mucho pesos de tourism go into deep pockets where most hands can't reach. They really believe that "politicos" skim off the top. The widespread "URO Fuera" slogan indicates that the current governor is suspect of even more skimming than usual.
The Guelaguetza, according to news reports, is centuries old. True. But the "for tourists" Guelaguetza is fairly recent and I've seen the price of a seat rise from 100 pesos to 400 pesos in the 8 years I've lived here. Traditionally, it's a time where the various regions of Oaxaca (7 in all) come to the city to publicly show off their folkloric dances and costumes. Tourists, it turns out, love it! Hence it has become the "darling" of tourism with an ever-increasing admission charge and mega promotional efforts. Guelaguetza means "a time of sharing," and dancers throw their dance accessories, such as oranges, pineapples, bananas and bandanas into a shrieking crowd at the end of their act.
Last summer, I was told, a local/non-tourism Guelaguetza was held in a "built-by-the-people" stadium with no admission charge, attracting thousands. Also, traditionally surrounding villages present their own Guelaguetza so tourists coming for the folkloric extravaganza won't be disappointed if they keep their eyes and ears open for other venues, IF the main one is cancelled. Even if it isn't cancelled, a local Guelaguetza in a village is a good option for those wanting a less touristy atmosphere.