The municipal council of Santa Cruz hasn’t made a definitive decision regarding the National Typical Fiestas for 2021, but President Maricela Moreno stated that “the decision is almost 99% sure that it will not take place.”
According to Moreno, the council members are waiting for the Santa Cruz Health Area Governing Body to issue criteria that will serve as a guide to the council to make the agreement.
Maybe by November we can determine it. We are going to let these months go by, ” commented the president.
The director of the Santa Cruz Health Area Governing Body, Warren Chavarria, confirmed that the Health department has not issued any specific pronouncement about the fiestas in the canton of Santa Cruz and that the contact they have had with the municipality to look at the issue has been “very superficial.”
Chavarria emphasized that the only guidelines that exist are those established by the Ministry of Health at the national level that prohibit mass gathering events.
No Plan B
Council member Macdonald Espinoza said that the municipality lacks an alternative plan that allows them to keep some kind of celebration.
“No proposal has come forth from any council member to see what we could do in case of canceling them. As a council, we haven’t looked at how we could adapt them either, for example. I stay firm that there are no fiestas,” Espinoza commented.
As an example, the council member recalled how on July 25, the municipality of Nicoya adapted the celebrations of the Annexation of the Party of Nicoya to Costa Rica to a virtual format.
Both Espinoza and the council president confirmed that the council has not sworn in the traditional Fiestas Commission, which is in charge of developing the fiestas each year. Without a pandemic, this commission would already have been formed and sworn in by August.
We know that the ban on the event means an economic impact for so many people, but health comes first,” remarked Mendoza.
Oscar Mora, who researches the history of Santa Cruz and is secretary of the Chorotega Culture Development Association, affirmed that if the fiestas are canceled, this would be the third time since 1977 in which the event would be affected in some way.
According to Mora, the first setback for the fiestas was in 1977 when the president at the time, Daniel Oduber, issued a decree to suspend the celebration after a group of people gathered signatures and requested it.
“At that time, there was a very big drought in which agriculture and livestock were very affected, so there were no fiestas,” he commented.
The second setback came in the year 2009. At that time, the Costa Rican government decreed a national mourning for five days, following the Cinchona earthquake, during which no official activity would take place. The National Typical Fiestas were delayed for five days.
According to Mora, the fiestas have been held for more than 200 years and were initially held in what is now the central park of Santa Cruz.
However, they acquired greater popularity in September 1974 when they were declared National Typical Festivals due to their cultural heritage importance. The executive decree was signed by President Oduber Quiros and his Minister of Culture, Carmen Naranjo Carvajal.