There was a time when Mexico’s Plaza Garibaldi went silent…

Plaza Garibaldi in downtown Mexico City is not supposed to be silent. For more than a century, the large public square has been the home of Mexican mariachi music.

On a typical night, it would be filled with dozens of bands playing bouncing tunes about love, lust and heartbreak. Spectators would be singing along as they downed beers at crowded sidewalk cafes. The cacophony of violins, trumpets and laughter might continue until dawn.

In these days of the coronavirus, the fiesta has halted.

Now only a few mariachis show up each day at the empty plaza. They are ready to perform, dressed in their handsome charro suits, but they have nobody to play for. The plaza’s bars and restaurants are closed; almost no one passes by.

For years, the musicians have made a living marking momentous occasions — birthdays, weddings, quinceañeras — but these days, such big gatherings are anathema.

Even the statues commemorating famous mariachis look lonely. A sculpture of Juan Gabriel, one of the nation’s most beloved crooners of romantic ballads, has been adorned with a surgical mask.

Daniel Muñoz, 60, has lived his entire life in an apartment on the plaza, where he owns a now-shuttered restaurant called La Símpatía. On a recent afternoon, he stood looking out at the plaza as a hungry tomcat, deprived of the usual bounty from eating establishments, sniffed at his feet.

Muñoz can’t wait until the plaza comes alive again, until he hears “Mexico Lindo y Querido” and “Las Mañanitas” echoing along with voices in the night air.

“It’s odd, I know,” he said. “But I really miss the noise.”

By Kate Linthicum for The LA Times



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