Carnival of Santiago de Cuba - Attitude of The Colonial Authorities To The Mamarrachos

Attitude of The Colonial Authorities To The Mamarrachos

The colonial authorities usually tolerated the mamarrachos. Mamarrachos were forbidden at some times for these reasons: in 1788, because of “abuses,”(Pérez I 1988:30); in 1794, because of "...moral and physical damage that they produce..." (Pérez I 1988:30) in 1815, because of drunken coach-drivers and the mixing of classes where "...license is taken to insult any person whatsoever with indecent songs and sarcastic speech which cause fights...," (Pérez I 1988:34); in 1816, "...with the object of preventing the disorders and excesses that have been committed in previous years, eliminating forever horse races and so forth..." (Pérez I 1988:34); in 1820, for "fear of disorder" (Pérez I 1988:34); in 1823, (reason not given, Pérez I 1988:34) and in 1869, "...so that the tranquility that the city enjoys may not be disturbed." (Pérez I 1988:110-1)

Although tolerated, the mamarrachos were regulated (at least, on paper). In 1679, black slaves were not allowed to take part in comparsas whose members wore masks. Furthermore, black freedmen were the only ones who were not allowed to hide their faces with paint or masks. The reason given was that in preceding years, the opportunity of wearing a mask had given rise to violent settling of personal vendettas (Pérez I 1988:24). In a proclamation of 1841, the Spanish Governor forbade riding on horses or other animals in the paseo, driving vehicles fast during the paseo, the ridiculing of any person by means of speech, song or verse and the wearing of indecent costumes that could either offend public morality or make fun of other people. He also required the directors of comparsas to ask permission of the owners of homes before entering. Finally, law officers were admonished to arrest violators of the above regulations “without exception as to person” and also, to arrest any persons caught bearing offensive arms under their costumes (Pérez I 1988:36). The proclamation of 1846 (Pérez I 1988:36) essentially repeats the contents of that of 1841, as do also those of 1851 (Pérez I 1988:67-8), 1854 (Pérez I 1988:71-2), 1859 (Pérez I 1988:85-6), etc., until the end of the colonial period.

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