Vaxxed Picaresque Pepino returns to coffin to end Bolivian Carnival
By Yolanda Salazar
La Paz, March 6 (EFE).- The picaresque Pepino, the main character of the carnival in the city of La Paz, returned to his coffin with his Covid-19 vaccination card and the keys to the city to close the festivities of carnival celebrations in Bolivia.
The act called “temptation” began Sunday on Baptista Avenue in the city of La Paz, where the mischievous Pepino danced for the last time, spreading joy along with the other characters of this festivity such as the ch’uta and the cholita pacena.
While Pepino did his dance, jumping and scattering colored paper, a group of people followed him with the coffin on their shoulders, a traditional way in La Paz to say goodbye to carnival festivities.
El Pepino, which is an Andean version of the harlequins of the European courts, had his large vaccination card hanging and also carried colored keys that represented “joy, responsibility and health” but it was also a way symbolic to close the carnival.
Behind, there were about 20 singing groups of ch’utas and cholitas, Aymara indigenous women, who danced around showing off their colorful costumes and wearing streamers around their necks to accompany Pepino in his last dance this year.
This activity was held again after a year due to the spread of Covid-19.
“Today we are thanking Mother Earth and culminating our great carnival party, with the pandemic we have extended our activities, but this has been a year of restart,” Mariel Cadena, one of the dancers, told Efe.
When Pepino and the entire entourage danced to the gates of the General Cemetery, the carnival character entered the coffin in a “symbolic” way so that the group of people could carry him on their shoulders to the interior of the cemetery.
In the middle of the central act the “widows,” some women who “mourned” for the burial of Pepino accompanied the coffin inside the cemetery to give him the “last goodbye.”
After the “burial,” the dancers danced throughout the tour to bid farewell to the carnival.
In these activities were the “prosecutors for life,” in charge of verifying that all the participants carry their vaccination card and the transparent mask or chinstrap to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
Although at first the dancers respected these provisions, over time they gradually removed their masks, although they carried their vaccination certificates.
Bolivia is in the de-escalation of the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and at the end of February carnival activities began in the country, in which several departments authorized parties for this holiday.
The country has registered 894,967 Covid-19 infections and 21,461 deaths, since the first cases were detected in March 2020. EFE