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Local police at the scene of a party in Puerto Escondido. Local police at the scene of a party in Puerto Escondido.

Oaxaca beach town parties stoke fears of virus spread

Residents organize to report parties after big New Year's event

The state of Oaxaca is currently at the orange high risk level on the country’s coronavirus stoplight map, but that is not stopping a wave of beach parties at bars and clubs in Puerto Escondido and the surrounding area.

Residents who say they organized themselves into a group to report such events to municipal authorities after a massive event on Zicatela Beach on January 2 told the newspaper El Universal that such large events have continued to take place and that officials have been slow or ineffectual in responding, even when provided with video evidence.

The videos, which they also shared with the newspaper, show that large parties hosted by beachfront bars and clubs have continued despite Oaxaca’s orange level meaning a prohibition on large gatherings.

“These are big money-making events, and they encourage people to gather in the middle of a full-blown pandemic with no protection, until five or six in the morning,” residents told El Universal. “They even have afterparties.”

In one clip, people can be seen dancing and socializing in close quarters at a scheduled event this week at Xcaanda Club on Zicatela Beach, which was the location of a live electronic music event at La Piedra de La Iguana, a private club in which dozens of people celebrated New Year’s weekend without masks or observing social distancing guidelines. Videos of the event were posted on social media.

According to the group, police did show up at the Xcaanda Club event this week but merely encouraged organizers to end activities. The club was not subsequently shut down or sanctioned, the residents said.

Even more troubling, said the group, is the fact that members believe the event was a replacement of another event that authorities had shut down in advance, one that was supposed to take place January 7–10.

It to be a multiple-day affair titled “Sono Escape to Paradise,” involving 10 deejays and activities at swimming pools and beach areas from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with an after-party in an undisclosed location until 5 a.m.

Residents point out that the name of the event at the Xcaanda Club, “Escape to Xcaanda,” was similar to the canceled event and that promotional materials for the two were very similar.

Evelio Santos, local tourism director in Santa María Colotepec where Zicatela Beach is located, said that officials shut down operations at bars on the beach this past Tuesday, but residents countered that authorities only did so at 11 p.m., and that when the group tried to call police to investigate partying going on late into the night, no one answered.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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