Day of the Dead

Mexico looks to James Bond to end tourism blues

City is backing 007-inspired Day of the Dead parade in bid in attract visitors and income

Some 250,000 people attended the first-ever Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City.
Some 250,000 people attended the first-ever Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City.AFP

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Authorities in Mexico City have found inspiration in the most unlikely of places in their bid to give the country’s UNESCO-protected Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations a boost.

Around 250,000 people attended a spectacular parade on Saturday based on one of the opening scenes of the James Bond film Spectre, which saw the British spy forcing his way through a non-existent Day of the Dead march that was more 18th-century Venice than 21st-century Mexico.

The result is a mixture of Halloween, the hit TV show ‘The Walking Dead’ and Rio’s Carnival

In the 2015 movie, Bond, played by Daniel Craig, kills several bad guys and then flies over Mexico City’s main square in a helicopter – leaving behind wardrobes full of Halloween-themed costumes that need to be aired from time to time.

These scenes have now provided the inspiration for Mexico City’s council to organize a carnival for tourists with Spectre as the theme and the country’s ancient traditions as an excuse.

The result is a mixture of Halloween, the hit TV show The Walking Dead and Rio’s Carnival, and images of the event are a welcome contrast to all of the bad news coming out of the country.

More than 100,000 lives have been lost in the country’s decade-long war war on drugs, with chronic violence shortening average life experience in Mexico by up to three years. The situation is so bad that the country’s army is said to be suffering from burnout.

The tourism sector has been hard hit from the violence, while US authorities issued a travel alert in early 2016 after 203 US citizens were killed in Mexico in the years 2014 and 2015. Mexico responded by complaining about a lack of specifics in the US warning but did not deny the information it contained.

“The Day of the Dead parade will be bigger than the Veracruz Carnival [one of the biggest and best-known such events in Mexico], and within a few years will be at the same level as Rio Carnival  – one of the most important in Latin America,” said regional tourism chief Miguel Torruco.

“After we saw the movie we said, ‘We have to do a parade next year’,” said Enrique De la Madrid, the city’s tourism secretary.

“Legendary,” “epic” and “historic” are just some of the terms being used to describe an event described by locals as a resounding success.

The UNESCO-protected indigenous Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico last several days and celebrate the temporary return of dead family members and loved ones.

The festivities have deep roots among Mexico’s indigenous people and combine pre-Colombian rituals with Catholic traditions introduced by Europeans in the 16th century.

In the case of this new parade, it appears that there can be traditions that are just a year old...

English version by George Mills.

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