On the morning of this Thursday, January 14th, the Guanacaste community of Santa Cruz began with greater fervor its traditional celebration in honor of the Holy Christ of Esquipulas, upon receiving from the hands of the Minister of Culture and Youth, Sylvie Durán Salvatierra, the declaration that officially recognizes this celebration, as intangible cultural heritage of the canton.
The “Celebration to the Santo Cristo de Esquipulas”, also known as “Demanda de Esquipulas”, “Fiestas al Cristo Negro” or “Fiestas al Negro Pencón”, takes place annually from January 14 to 18 in the canton of Santa Cruz, province of Guanacaste of Costa Rica. The declaration of heritage was established in Decree No. 42670-C, signed by Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of the Republic and the Minister of Culture and Youth, on December 2, 2020.
The Solemn Extraordinary Session No. 01 of the Municipal Council of Santa Cruz was held this January 14th, framed at the beginning of the “Black Christ Festivities” and was attended and attended by the parish priest, Efrén León Cerdas, parish priest of the National Shrine Holy Christ of Esquipulas; Maricela Moreno Rodríguez, president of the Municipal Council of Santa Cruz; Jorge Arturo Alfaro Orias, mayor of Santa Cruz; Sylvie Durán, Minister of Culture and Youth, as well as Loida Pretiz, Vice Minister of Culture and representative of the National Commission for Intangible Cultural Heritage. The activity was carried out under strict measures and sanitary protocols, as established by the Ministry of Health.
The Minister of Culture and Youth, Sylvie Durán, stressed the importance and sociocultural and religious value of the Black Christ, and highlighted that “traditions of this nature promote the historical memory of the localities, their heritage, sense of belonging, their uniqueness, the knowledge and appreciation for the richness and cultural diversity of the country”.
In addition, she stressed that one of the great virtues of this declaration is the interest and consensus effort of the Santa Cruz community to preserve a tradition that has more than 200 years and that the canton continues to promote in the younger generations.
Important sociocultural value
Durán also pointed out the commitment that the State assumes in favor of safeguarding the cultural expressions of this type and stressed that “this is a special year, because it will be the first year of expression of this holiday after the announcement of its declaration as intangible cultural heritage.
“From the declaration, all interested parties take the commitment to encourage the generation of measures and strategies for identification, documentation, research and enhancement of this expression, from formal and non-formal education. We invite all institutions, local government, organizations and the general public to continue celebrating this event and continue transmitting it from generation to generation with all its elements: joy, music, maroons, dances and traditional meals, and the steps that are carried out throughout the activity”, stated the Minister.
Community cultural enhancement
For his part, Jorge Arturo Alfaro Orias, mayor of Santa Cruz, pointed out that “within the framework of the celebration of one more year of the Holy Christ of Esquipulas, of the Fiestas de Santa Cruz, a folkloric city of Costa Rica, this declaration of heritage intangible culture is of utmost importance to us. We want to thank the Ministry of Culture and Youth for this recognition that highlights everything that the Holy Christ of Esquipulas represents for our community”.
The initiative and request for the declaration arose from the efforts of the organization “Apuntalando lo Nuestro”, through its representative Saidem Vidaurre Arredondo, who pointed out and highlighted that “this effort is the product of the contribution of Santa Cruz people from different generations who, from their particular vision of our environment, they were willing to offer their grain of sand. In the conscience and heart of each one of these citizens can nest the feeling of satisfaction of the goal achieved ”.
In addition, the Minister of Culture and Youth highlighted that traditions such as that of Santo Cristo de Esquipulas, represent part of the tourist-cultural attractions that seek initiatives such as the Integral Management of Tourism, which are currently carried out through the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture and Youth; that through intangible cultural heritage allows to promote tourist destinations such as Santa Cruz.
“Here is an opportunity in which we have a series of elements and strengths to make this declaration really give a launch of capacities to the community, to the State, to safeguard and promote tradition ”, concluded the minister. As part of the celebration of this declaration, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at the Santo Cristo de Esquipulas National Sanctuary, located in Santa Cruz.