Elton John concert to go ahead despite Mayan anger

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 03 2010 02:11 PM | Updated as of Apr 03 2010 10:12 PM

MERIDA, Mexico – Organizers said a concert by Elton John in the ruins of Chichen Itza would go ahead Saturday even after the stage collapsed injuring 3 workers and complaints from indigenous Mayans it was irreverent and out of place.

Thursday's accident, caused by a collapsing 80-meter (262-foot) metal tower, left one worker with serious leg injuries.

The announcement rankled local Mayan leaders and officials, who pointed out that perhaps the accident was the work of "aluxes," the Mayan culture's equivalent of fairies, who were upset because their gods' permission for the concert was lacking.

"With each concert, in the early morning, a ritual is performed to ask for permission, and this time it was not done," Yucatan state public works secretary Francisco Torres told the Reforma daily.

As with previous concerts by Spanish tenor Placido Domingo in 2008 and British soprano Sarah Brightman in 2009, Mayan leaders, archaeologists and some say even the local gods, resent the sacred ruins being used for profit-seeking entertainment.

Forty researchers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History, which takes care of the Chichen Itza complex, recently published their complaints about Saturday's musical event in local media.

Chichen Itza "is no scenery for an artist to show off, for the enjoyment of an elite or for the political and economic benefit of a small group of people, as well as powerful multinationals," wrote the scientists.

The concert venue near Merida has a 6,000-seat capacity that is 90 percent booked, with ticket prices ranging from 80 to 800 dollars -- putting it clearly out of range of the local Maya population.

Valerio Canche, a Mayan priest who heads the "Mayao'b" religious group, told AFP he regretted "the great discrimination the authorities are inflicting on our brothers of the Maya race."

Meanwhile, local authorities earlier this week announced they had purchased the land on which the Chichen Itza ruins stand from private individuals for 17.6 million dollars.

And without missing a beat, they announced that former Beatle Paul McCartney was next in line to hold a concert at the Mayan ruins.