A New Year tradition in the Interior

Men of the year: Panamanian President Juan Calos Varela, US President-elect Donald Trump, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and the late Cuban strongman Fidel Castro, in effigy in Bejuco.

Personae and phenomena:
the muñeco measure

photos by Sivio Sirias, notes by Eric Jackson

Take a drive west on the Pan-American Highway these next few days — Sunday will be too late — and you will see these dummies of varying quality along the roadsides. They are muñecos, symbols of the outgoing year to be burned on New Year’s bonfires. The norm is that muñecos get stuffed full of firecrackers before getting tossed into the fire, and if to a colonense saril is a tea made from brewing the petals of a red flower of an annual hibiscus species with a bit of ginger, then perhaps flavoring it with a bit of sugar and maybe some lime juice, allspice or pineapple juice, around the New Years bonfires of the Interior saril is brewed straight, chilled and then mixed with an ample amount of seco. Who and what get represented in muñecos tend to be the famous, the infamous, and the cultural sensations of the old year. Taking a count of who and how many of each is a good way to estimate the year’s top news story. The depictions are often quite irreverent and the most outrageous ones often reflect a quite accurate public estimation of the person or thing represented.


Final orders from The Comandante: ‘Nevertheless, comrade, you WILL infiltrate their high schools and writers’ circles….’


The Ugly Gringo: a very Latin American way of looking at the US president-elect.


Was the US election the piñata that saves his presidency from the taint of scandals and violence?


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