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El Dia de los Muertos American-style: Communicating with the Living
Unformatted Document Text:  8 during the Days of the Dead. 23 Comparable measures to contain public manifestations during this holiday existed in Peru and other Andean countries 24 and as recently as the early 20 th century, Bolivian officials banned the sale of alcohol and fireworks and forbade musical bands from playing in and around cemeteries during All Saints’ Day. 25 During the mid 19 th century in Mexico, the spirit of resistance appeared in literary form during the Days of the Dead. A carry-over from the 19 th century Spanish lampoons or pasquins, poems called calaveras (skulls) were written during this time of year. 26 Utilizing humor to express the political dissatisfaction which people felt privately but could not express publicly, these satiric verses were composed anonymously for publication in local newspapers. This practice continues in Mexico today and while calaveras may touch on any theme, they typically take the form of joking “obituaries” for corrupt political leaders, the wealthy, and others associated with injustice. The custom of writing satirical verses during the Days of the Dead is practiced on a smaller scale by university students in Guatemala and El Salvador. 27 Known as bombas, these anonymous poems have provided fleeting opportunities to condemn institutionalized violence and extreme disparities in wealth within a context of severe political and military repression. A late 20 th century form of political commentary to emerge during the Days of the Dead is seen in the Mexican skeletal figurines known as calaveritas. Crafted by working class artisans, these miniature skeletons frequently spoof the wealthy and portray cynicism towards the government, expressing the average working person’s awareness of and 23 Juan Pedro Viquiera, op. cit, p. 13. 24 Steve J. Stern, op. cit., p. 31. 25 Hans Buechler, The Masked Media: Aymara Fiestas and Social Interaction in the Bolivian Highlands, p. 167. 26 Carmichael and Sayer, op. cit., p. 58. 27 Personal conversations with students from the University of San Carlos, Guatemala and the University of Central America, El Salvador and personal observation of these poems in student newspapers.

Authors: Marchi, Regina Miriam.
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8
during the Days of the Dead.
23
Comparable measures to contain public manifestations during
this holiday existed in Peru and other Andean countries
24
and as recently as the early 20
th
century,
Bolivian officials banned the sale of alcohol and fireworks and forbade musical bands from
playing in and around cemeteries during All Saints’ Day.
25
During the mid 19
th
century in Mexico, the spirit of resistance appeared in literary form
during the Days of the Dead. A carry-over from the 19
th
century Spanish lampoons or pasquins,
poems called calaveras (skulls) were written during this time of year.
26
Utilizing humor to
express the political dissatisfaction which people felt privately but could not express publicly,
these satiric verses were composed anonymously for publication in local newspapers. This
practice continues in Mexico today and while calaveras may touch on any theme, they typically
take the form of joking “obituaries” for corrupt political leaders, the wealthy, and others
associated with injustice. The custom of writing satirical verses during the Days of the Dead is
practiced on a smaller scale by university students in Guatemala and El Salvador.
27
Known as
bombas,
these anonymous poems have provided fleeting opportunities to condemn
institutionalized violence and extreme disparities in wealth within a context of severe political
and military repression. A late 20
th
century form of political commentary to emerge during the
Days of the Dead is seen in the Mexican skeletal figurines known as calaveritas. Crafted by
working class artisans, these miniature skeletons frequently spoof the wealthy and portray
cynicism towards the government, expressing the average working person’s awareness of and
23
Juan Pedro Viquiera, op. cit, p. 13.
24
Steve J. Stern, op. cit., p. 31.
25
Hans Buechler, The Masked Media: Aymara Fiestas and Social Interaction in the Bolivian Highlands, p. 167.
26
Carmichael and Sayer, op. cit., p. 58.
27
Personal conversations with students from the University of San Carlos, Guatemala and the University of Central
America, El Salvador and personal observation of these poems in student newspapers.


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