In a surprise move, the mayor of the northern Colombian city of Baranquilla has banned costumes considered to offend the dignity or integrity of political figures or others at this year’s carnival in early March.
The official decree from the Mayor’s Office seeks to elevate the moral character of the traditionally raucous annual festival, particularly with regards to the perceived degradation of women, reports Caracol Radio.
Carnival goers are notoriously free-spirited and traditionally wear boisterous costumes, including ones parodying political figures, like former United States President Ronald Reagan or the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. These and a vague range of other outfits have been deemed tasteless by the Mayor’s Office this year.
Carnival attendees wearing traditional “marimondas,” multicolored masks with elongated noses, will reportedly be allowed to participate in the event’s many Mardi Gras parades and other activities, such as the Battle of Flowers, the Great Parade and the Great Parade of Fantasy.
According to Caracol Radio, many sociologists and historians view the decree as censorship, because the event was created principally to allow people to speak freely and to “mock the social and political reality.” Some have already expressed fears that the decree will destroy the originality of Barranquilla’s carnival.
Colombia Reports has thus far been unable to obtain an exact copy of the decree or reach any officials within the Barranquilla Mayor’s Office to comment on its intended execution.
Widely considered the largest carnival celebration in the world outside of Rio de Janeiro’s yearly festivities, the Barranquilla carnival was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2003.
Celebrations begin this weekend and last through several weeks of processions and partying.