Fighting, Drunken Abuse, And Public Aggression Mar Century-Old Festival
Around one hundred and fifty people were arrested at the Cozumel Carnival over the weekend for an array of offenses. At least one person was admitted to the hospital with serious injuries.
According to multiple reports, the arrests were made over the course of the entire festival and not one isolated incident. The event, which ran from Friday, May 18th to Wednesday the 25th had been canceled for the past two years due to the pandemic and rescheduled from February.
The initial twelve men were arrested for “scandalous behavior” while intoxicated. What the men were doing exactly was not elaborated on in this instance. From then, multiple mass brawls erupted throughout the week, resulting in the majority of the arrests. Several individual and isolated fights were also reported.
According to the statistics released charges being pursued are disturbing the public order, police harassment, scandalous drunkenness, fighting, and instigating violence. Many of those arrested were between the ages of 18 and 24.
All of those involved are required to be a minimum of 900 pesos ($45) a relatively small amount. It is assumed that these are for the lesser offenses although no information has been given clarifying this.
More serious were the multiple discharges of firearms, however, these turned out to be false alarms and were most likely fireworks.
The police were called to a family gathering celebrating the carnival and left with twenty attendees in handcuffs. It is unclear what these charges were but the National Guard was involved in the operation.
Four young people were admitted to the hospital throughout the festival, where one is still in the intensive care unit after sustaining traumatic injuries. According to reports, a blood clot formed in his skull after he was struck repeatedly on the head.
For such chaos to erupt at what should be a happy event is unfortunate. The festival is the oldest of its kind in Mexico, tracing its roots back almost one hundred and fifty years. The first known celebration was in 1876 and has grown drastically since then.
Attendees on any day of the festival are treated to live music, dance competitions, parades, masquerade balls, and plenty of wonderful food. It is billed as a festival for the whole family which makes the events of the past week so much worse.
Thankfully, none of the violence has been linked to organized crime. Instead, alcohol appears to be the main influence. The addition of gang violence would have been a dark mark on the event beyond what had already happened.
Quintana Roo has been struggling with a worrying uptick in organized crime over the past year Cancun, Tulum, and other towns’ exploding popularity is turning the state into valuable territory for drug gangs as tourists arrive with the intent to use.
The increased competition from rival gangs has led to an eruption of violence with more than 140 homicides in the state since the beginning of the year. Tourists have managed to avoid the violence for the most part, but as the regularity of attacks and the nearing proximity grows, it isn’t unlikely that a tourist could find themselves as collateral damage.
A situation like this occurred in 2021 when two tourists were killed in a Tulum bar when rival gangs opened fire on the establishment.
As Cozumel is an island, it may not suffer the same issues seen on the mainland, but the violence taking place over the past week will surely spur some changes in next year’s schedule. No statement has been made from the organizers as to repercussions for those responsible or if there will be changes next year.
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