Opinion: Tourists love Mexico, hate Mexican culture

by Kimberly Madrigal and graphic by Guillermo Salazar

Last week a classical music performance took place at a resort patio in Mazatlan, below on the beach a small band playing Sinaloan style music was performing for beachgoers. As they did, the guitar performance attendees complained of the loud noise coming from the beach. Conversations began to strike on social media platforms such as TikTok and X (previously known as “Twitter”), local hospitality tycoon, Ernesto Coppell, pushed for a new policy of 7 p.m. being the cut off time for live music on beaches, as he shared,

 “They don’t let people rest. I have complaints from hundreds of American tourists who tell me they will not return to Mazatlán because of the scandal and the noise,” via The Mazatlan Post.

Though some reports state that only certain bands would be allowed to perform on the beaches from now on; including 15 norteño groups and 12 bandas Sinaloenses. This angered locals, local musicians and many Mexicans, as the city is famous for live music on the beach. Adding, how this is affecting the jobs of hundreds of musicians who live off of performing and now aren’t allowed to.

This caused hundreds of musicians and activists to fill the touristic strip, also known as “el malecon” with live music in protest against these possible policies during one of the most tourist-filled weeks, semana santa or holy week. Even the Mexican Army’s band showed their solidarity and joined the performing protest. Videos online have received millions of views on different platforms.

As a person of Sinaloense descendancy, growing up as a kid going to Mexican parties I didn’t like banda music. It wasn’t until recently that I began traveling more and more to Mazatlán, specifically where I began to appreciate, enjoy and truly love the music my ancestors created. 

There is truly nothing like dancing in the warm Mazatlán sand to live banda with a Pacifico in hand, or in my case a Buchananas with pineapple juice. 

I love that Mazatlán is the perfect balance of a tourist destination for other Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. It doesn’t seem like such a whitewashed touristy destination compared to other places I’ve visited such as Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. For the last few years, Mazatlán has served my family and I as the best fun, yet family friendly destination for annual reunions uniting family members of mine from California, Sonora, Sinaloa and Jalisco.

I feel that the concert-goers are so detached from reality. I don’t know how one would plan, arrange and travel to a city famous for its lively, loud and bold live music, and then be mad if the music is loud, especially as a so-called “music appreciator.” There are other parts of the world, even in Mexico where a classical guitar performance would be appropriate, but it baffles me to see the looks of shock and disgust that local, cultural music “ruined” their foreign, boring concert experience.I truly feel if they don’t like it they shouldn’t have come and they most definitely shouldn’t return until they’re willing to give respect to the culture of Mazatlecos, and I’m not the only one who thinks this.

One user on X said, “I don’t like Banda, but obviously I’m going to be the most rowdy, Sinaloan motherfucker if that means I can fuck with the lives of the rich and white people who are ruining Mazatlan and more.”

Many people have taken it to social media to share how resort owners and local politicians are taking tourists’ side, for the money, of course. But at what cost? Erasing culture? Ridding local artists of a platform and jobs to provide for their families? For people who come for a week, to sit by the beach and drink pina coladas and never help the local economy and community again? In conclusion, it was truly heartbreaking and disrespectful that this situation occurred. Live banda and norteño music is what Mazatlán is known for. It’s beyond “a simple curfew,” they are affecting jobs, art, expression and culture of local Mazatlecos, all for the validation of gentrifying foreigners. 

Editors note: The quote featured in this story, curtesy of X was translated from its original language, Spanish.

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