The opening of the 12-day annual Fiestas de Palmares, originally set for Jan. 14, was postponed one week to respect a mourning period after a 6.2 magnitude Jan. 8 earthquake killed at least 18 people (see separate stories in the news section).
After declaring a period of national mourning from Jan. 12 to 16, Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias made a public plea to the Palmares Civic Association to suspend the festival.
Palmares Civic Association President William Vásquez said the association has every intention of supporting the government’s request and agreed to change the event schedule as necessary.
“We are in a time of mourning and can wait to begin Palmares,” Vásquez said. “During this time, we need to focus on the people who need our help, our brothers and our neighbors, not celebrations.”
Vásquez acknowledged there would be costs involved in rescheduling, but also that the week of mourning is essential. He added that a percentage of the profits from the festival will be donated to relief efforts in earthquake-affected areas.
“We need to unite forces and make sure we’re doing as much as we can to help the devastated areas,” Public Security Minister Janina del Vecchio said. “If our attention is focused elsewhere, we’re not doing all we can.”
The distribution of the police force between rescue efforts for the earthquake and surveillance at Palmares was also discussed.
Del Vecchio denied speculation that the possibility of a reduced police force affected the decision to postpone the event.
“This decision was made because we need time for a mourning period after a disaster of this magnitude,” she said. “The reason for the postponement of the event is not due to a reduced police force, though it has been acknowledged that they will be very tired.”
Vásquez said he is confident the artists understand the necessary delay and will be able to adjust to the new schedule.
The revised concert lineup as of Wednesday was as follows: Mexican electronic rock group Kinky and U.S.-Dominican DJ Roger Sanchez, Jan. 22; Argentine electro-pop band Miranda! Jan. 23; Sharam of U.S.-Iranian DJ duo Deep Dish, Jan. 24; former Kumbia Kings vocalist Pee Wee, Jan. 25; Argentine reggae, ska and rock band Los Pericos, Jan. 30; Ranchero Festival, featuring Mexican performer Ana Bárbara, Jan. 31; and, closing the fiestas, popular Puerto Rican reggaeton and hip-hop group Calle 13, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.
For a complete schedule of events, see the Calendar on pages W10 and W11. For updates, see the Fiestas de Palmares Web site at www.fiestaspalmares.com.