The Pop Singer Scandal

September 29th, 2006 by ejalbright

On July 10, the magazine “TV y Novelas-Mexico” published a photo series of the Mexican pop music star, Thalia, at Chichén Itzá. The images had been taken by the performer’s mother on May 29. Thalia was not the only high profile tourist that spring. Presidents Fox and Bush and Prime Minister Harper met together for the first time next to the steps of El Castillo. Thalia’s visit, though unannounced, generated nearly as much media attention-two months after the fact.

It was where the photos had been taken that stirred all the controversy. The magazine printed images of the singer at the top of El Castillo and sitting astride the Chac Mool at the top of the Temple of Warriors–all locations barred to public access.

The visit and subsequent photographs did not escape the notice of the union that represents the workers at Chichén. The secretary general of the union refrained from public comment, until all eyes were trained on Chichén when the president of Mexico and governor of Yucatán travelled to New York to promote the ancient city to be a new Wonder of the World. The union president used that opportunity to blast the pop star and her sister.

Her sister? Thalia’s older sis is Federica Sodi Miranda, director of the Central Region of INAH and the former director of the archaeological zone at Chichén Itzá. Federica, a rising star in Mexican archaeological circles, denied that her sister and mother received special permission to access the prohibited areas. She also said that her sister did break the law, and should pay fines for profiting off the monuments belonging to the people.

The story appeared in hundreds of Spanish-language publications around the world. It gained new life two days later, when Thalia released her mea culpa. Speaking through her lawyers, she admitted erring by visiting the banned locations, taking the pictures and then offering them for publication. Her lawyers were cooperating with INAH, according to the statement, and she would accept the consquences of whatever decision is negotiated. It now falls to the Mexican people to forgive her transgression.

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