Officers! Arrest that tenor!

Placido Domingo sang at Chichen Itza Saturday night.

“The world’s greatest tenor at one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World,” the publicity materials say.

“The world’s greatest tenor should be in the slammer,” the archaeologists retort.

Domingo’s concert inside Chichen Itza violates a law that requires the ruins to be preserved to educate Mexicans about ancient cultures, said Cuauhtemoc Velasco, a leader of the archaeologists’ union.

“These monuments are not there so that rich people can hold events at them” said Velasco, noting the tickets cost between $45 and $900 in a country with a minimum wage of about $4.50 per day.

For present-day Mayas like Amadeo Cool May, who hosts a Mayan-language radio program, the concert “is an event for foreigners who come here on vacation. It is something completely alien to the Mayas, because of the ticket prices and the type of music.”

Judging solely from the sketchy info in the article, I would say the legal beef is a tad thin on substance. The concert is not going to destroy the ruins or keep them from educating Mexicans about Mayan culture.

The cultural argument, otoh, has some bite. The government in charge of protecting Mayan sites is basically selling them out to events that have no relevance to the Mayan community. I can see why they’d be pissed about that, especially when long-term health of the ruins can be compromised by excessive use.


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Comment by Tiffany
2008-10-11 20:44:13

Wow. I have a hard time imagining an event like that at Chichen Itza. It just seems disrespectful, apart from any environmental impact.

Not that I have a leg to stand on as one of the hordes of tourists who has swarmed over the pyramid.

Comment by livius drusus
2008-10-11 21:26:13

It’s got a bit of a colonial feel, doesn’t it? Let’s celebrate our culture of stomping on other people’s culture.

Comment by Arnold Rotche
2008-10-20 13:40:42

I would love to have been there for the concert, even I’m not sure it is a good idea to perform such activities at maya sites. Still, I bet it was awesome.

Comment by Pierre
2009-02-16 13:19:07

The problem with this is, as the author noted, mostly about cultural property being sold out to strangers.

However, it is to note that simple use of such a ruin may threaten its integrity on the long term. Think of all those artefacts in museums that you’re not allowed to take a picture of because the flash could ruin it.

Imagine such a wonder of the world, covered in show spots, with music waves bounding along its structure, not counting such a massive amount of people at the same time for a prolonged period. That’s certainly not a good habit to take to protect such a structure.

Comment by Mike M
2012-09-20 23:32:08

@ Pierre:

The structure is quite sound. No amount of music or stomping of feet is going to make a 2,000 year old monument in the middle of Earthquake Country suddenly come tumbling down because of one rock concert that probably would barely be just a minor blip on the Richter scale…..

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