Biciruta in Merida. Photo: File

Any hope of Merida’s cultural and civic programs returning along with restaurants and hotels has been dashed this year.

Noche Blanca and Biciruta are out for the rest of 2020 under a reallocation of municipal resources while Merida faces the coronavirus pandemic.

City Hall is canceling 25 programs to save millions of pesos that officials feel are better spent on containing the coronavirus. Many would have been impossible to carry out under social distancing protocols, even if tourists had returned to Merida.

But the cuts are still painful for a city known for its vast cultural programs.

Noche Blanca was a twice-a-year citywide celebration of art, music and theater. The Biciruta was a weekly staple on the Paseo de Montejo, inviting citizens on a Sunday-morning bike ride on streets cleared of motor-vehicle traffic. Hanal Pixan celebrations in October were not mentioned, although discussions have included the concept of holding it virtually, as the Olimpo has done with its Picasso exhibit.

Another 235 million pesos were cut from salaries and general administrative expenditures, such as travel and publicity. Even making photocopies are restricted.

Many familiar cultural programs were brought to the chopping block. Mayor Renán Barrera Concha also said the musical Yucatecan Serenade, Noche of Cultures, Noche Mexicana, Mérida en Domingo, the weekly Vaquería traditional dance performance at the Palacio Municipal are all gone this year.

Summer sports and fitness programs for children have also evaporated.

Officials “searched ever beneath rocks” to find money, said Barrera Concha, who vowed that cost-cutting is still underway. “I believe that there is much more that we can review.”

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