Sunday, July 21, 2024

Police deployed to protect Poseidon statue that ‘angered’ a Maya god in Yucatán

An offbeat and humorous byproduct of Hurricane Beryl’s approach toward the Yucatán Peninsula involves a new statue of Poseidon in the surf just off the coastal town of Progreso — and a viral “plea” that prompted the police to start guarding it.

In an event posting on Facebook, user Angel Toledo wrote that the statue’s installation in late May to promote tourism had angered the Maya god Chaac. A follow-up post on TikTok that went viral explained that Chaac’s ire was why the area has been pounded by historically heavy rains from tropical storms Alberto and Chris and is now threatened by the onrushing Beryl.

Organizers of the event stated that the statue of Poseidon — the god of ancient Greek mythology who is “king of the seas” — must go. They even set a removal date of July 15.

This would apparently appease Chaac, the Maya god of rain who strikes the cloud with his lightning ax to produce thunder and rainstorms.

The listing and the hundreds of reactions, memes and follow-ups on social media picked up steam, with many going viral.

And the calls — tongue-in-cheek or not — to tear down the striking 3-meter tall statue grew even louder during the Beryl storm watch.

A Facebook screenshot showing a photo of the Poseidon statue in Progreso, Yucatán, and the event title "Ir a destruir la estatua de Poseidón."
A Facebook event titled “Go destroy the statue of Poseidon” alarmed authorities in Progreso, Yucatán, where the statue is located. (Facebook)

Then, starting on Wednesday, members of the Ecological Police of Progreso began guarding strategic points near the Poseidon statue in order to make sure no mishaps occurred.

A day earlier, a picture posted on the social media network X showed the statue of Poseidon seemingly split in half at the torso, lying in the sand. That gave rise to the theory that people hoping to thwart the arrival of Beryl had already torn down the statue — causing even more of a stir.

Much of this social media activity seemed to be occurring in good humor, but it did prompt widespread coverage from Mexican newspapers and TV stations.

The organizers of the Facebook event have since confirmed that they meant everything as a joke. Though 6,600 people responded that they would attend and 30,200 clicked on “interested,” the event listing is now marked as canceled, with an updated remark:

“Message to the community: Thank you for your support really it was fun to see that so many people took it as a good joke and we were able to reach 35,000 people in just a few hours I did not expect it and be on 3 local news shows but I have received many hateful comments and people threatening and I don’t want it to get out of control tqm to all of you who had fun.”

TQM is Mexican text-speak for te quiero mucho, which in this case expresses affection for everyone who got a good laugh out of the situation.

The statue is located about five meters into the sea in front of the Malecón Internacional de Progreso, a popular beach destination about a 45-minute drive from Yucatán state capital of Mérida.

“Meet the new icon of Progreso!” Turismo Yucatán posted on X last month. “Have you taken a photo with him yet?”

Made of fiberglass, the statue was an initiative of the Progreso City Council to attract tourism. However, from the very start, it generated controversy, with some people expressing anger that it did not represent Maya culture.

With reports from Por Esto, Infobae, La Jornada Maya and The Yucatan Times

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