Nuevo Culture

WATCH: Banda Musicians Protest Mazatlán’s New Beach Regulations

Live banda musicians are pushing back on Mazatlán’s new regulations that were presented due to complaints of excessive noise. Yesterday (Mar. 27), the musicians took matters into their own hands and protested on the tourist streets of the city to make their voices heard. Recording artists also joined in the conversation by posting videos online.

Earlier this week, a viral video of tourists watching a classic guitar performance with the sounds of banda playing at the beach outside of their hotel resort sparked an excessive noise conversation online and in the city. Another related incident that elevated the excessive noise movement was the appearance of a condominium complex’s attention notice reading, “The hiring of any music band is forbidden in the beach area in front of Camino al Mar, which is granted to the development,” fueling people to express their opinion.

Many social media users seem to agree that if you go to Mazatlán, you should be aware that live banda is one of the city’s attractions reflecting its unique culture. Though live banda is not banned from the beaches, the city’s authority and community implemented new regulations to compromise with the tourism industry’s concerns, including excessive noise.

The city agreed with local musicians that there would be a cut-off music time at 7 p.m. in the hotel resort zones. Other agreements include a reduction of bands, fewer speakers, and relocation to other sites. They also reassured that musicians will have the right to work if they follow the rules. However, reports reveal that the municipal government only gave permission to 15 chirrines – or norteño bands – and 12 bandas sinaloenses to perform throughout all of the beaches – despite last week’s conference reassuring everyone’s right to work. 

Consequently, musicians took their concerns to the streets and protested against the new regulations that not only cap the number of live bandas allowed to perform on the beaches but also control the noise. Hundreds of musicians with their instruments marched through the city, playing the banda tunes that their city is known for. The protest lasted most of the day, eventually turning into a riot against the police who tried to stop it. Reports indicate that the nine-hour protest started in the streets Rafael Buelna and Del Mar, and ended in the Zona Dorada, a focal point known for its resort hotels and tourism.

Moreover, other social media videos show that live bandas protested in front of the hotel owned by Ernesto “Neto” Coppel, who publicly spoke against live bandas due to tourism complaints about excessive noise. “We are not a fifth-rate destination, we are a first-rate destination, and that is how we should see ourselves. Enough is enough,” he said after claiming tourists said they wouldn’t come back to the city due to “scandalous” noise. Protestors carried signs reading, “Music does not kill, nor does it pollute. A hotel pollutes more”; “Respect our traditions”; and “The beach and the music belong to everyone,” in front of his hotel property.

Another social media shows the protestors calling out the president to come to an agreement. “Let the president come, we leave until the president comes, we leave until the president comes.”

Other support came from musicians who are also speaking out online. José Ángel Ledesma, known as “El Coyote” from El Coyote Y Su Banda Tierra Santa – and who previously sang in iconic bandas sinaloanses like La Original Banda El Limón – said that the man (presumably referring to Coppel) is wrong for trying to stop bandas from playing. “A tourist who is going to visit Mazatlán from the moment he leaves for Mazatlán is already thinking about a banda and some good seafood [and] an ice cold beer on the shore of the beach,” he said. “So, my friend, stop it, remember that Mazatlán is a land of Sinaloan music and good musicians, that’s what sustains the port.” He finishes the video by encouraging live bandas to keep working, regardless of what others say.

As of now, it’s unclear if the municipal authorities will change their new regulations.