A co-owner of La Negrita favors shutting down music at midnight. A co-owner of La Negrita favors shutting down music at midnight.

‘Expats go home:’ the debate continues over loud noise in Mérida

Music generates harmonies, not noise, says musicians' union chief, but not everyone agrees

A long-running debate over noise in the historic center of Mérida continues to rage, with a local musician and union boss even suggesting that expatriate residents should go home if they are not happy with the situation.

People who live in the Yucatán capital’s downtown area have complained for some time that rowdy bars, cantinas, nightclubs and restaurants are creating so much noise that they have lost their right to live in peace.

They have also charged that authorities have been silent on the issue and in March they unfurled banners protesting against the noise on the facades of more than 200 homes in the city.

In response, the local government is now considering the implementation of new regulations that could restrict the hours within which dining and entertainment venues can play loud music and host live bands.

While most local residents might welcome restrictions that prohibit music blaring into the early hours of the morning, the opinion among other stakeholders is more mixed.

A joint owner of the cantinas La Negrita and La Fundación Mezcalería — both located in Mérida’s historic center — said she was in favor of music being switched off at midnight.

Patricia Martín added that her establishments had set their own loud music restrictions and assured news website Reporteros Hoy that they had worked for and contributed to the establishment of better relations between residents and businesses in the area.

Martín also said that her facilities have always operated legally and would continue to comply with any restrictions authorities impose.

On the other hand, the general director of the Víctor Cervera Pacheco Yucatán Musicians’ Union has a different view, along with some combative advice for residents who want to change an area that he says has long been an entertainment hub of the city.

“Music doesn’t generate noise, it creates harmonies. Foreigners are the ones complaining and we don’t know why.  Music has always been there, that’s why we say to foreigners that if you don’t like it, what are you doing here, go back to your country,” Miguel Ángel Martínez Ancona said.

The union chief and seasoned musician called on municipal authorities to implement measures that don’t financially harm musicians who depend on working in the city’s downtown for their livelihood.

“We’re hoping for good will on the part of the Mérida council because we know that they are going to approve changes . . . What we ask for is that it respects the work of musicians, that it takes us into account . . .” Martínez said.

If musicians lose out in any new restrictions municipal authorities impose, Martínez warned, the union would protest at the doors of the municipal headquarters.

“. . . We’re not going to let them hurt us because of the complaints of a few foreigners,” he said.

The union’s position also has the backing of several social media users who vented their anger online last month after the Mérida government suggested that 11:30pm could be the new cut-off time for loud music.

“Mérida has turned into an old person’s city, they have no idea how many musicians, families and jobs they affect with this decision,” Andrea Salazar wrote on Facebook.

Another Facebook user also blamed foreign residents, echoing Martínez’s words by writing “if you don’t like it, go home [and] leave the Yucatán people in peace.”

The director of the council’s sustainable development division subsequently told the newspaper La Jornada that no decision has yet been made about what time any new noise restrictions will take effect.

Sayda Rodríguez Gómez also said that the council had listened to the concerns of both residents and business owners and explained that the aim of new restrictions would be to generate harmony and coexistence in Mérida’s downtown area.

Source: La Jornada (sp), Reporteros Hoy (sp), Yucatán a la Mano (sp)

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