Mexico’s emotional goodbye to Juan Gabriel resumed Tuesday (Sept. 6) at the iconic Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, with plans to remove his ashes this evening around 7 p.m. Mexico time.
Mexico’s secretary of culture, Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, estimated nearly 1 million people will pay their respects to the singer before his family takes the urn containing his ashes back to Ciudad Juarez; half a million had visited by Tuesday morning. In Ciudad Juarez, they’ll be kept over the chimney of Juan Gabriel’s home, just as he wished.
Juan Gabriel’s ashes arrived in Mexico City on Monday after a religious ceremony in Ciudad Juarez on Saturday. But throngs of people had lined up in front of Bellas Artes since Thursday, despite inclement weather. The sacrifice was worth it to spend just the few seconds allowed each one to see the urn placed in front of Bellas Artes’ main entrance.
Clara Labrada, 88 years old, arrived in a wheelchair from the suburbs. She didn’t mind the delay. “It doesn’t matter how long we had to wait. I wanted to say goodbye to him. I love, I admire him and I’ll be with him until the end,” she said, echoing comments from thousands of fans who came from different parts of the country.
It was an orderly, respectful goodbye. According to Mexico City’s head of government, more than 2,000 local police offers were deployed to guarantee safety.
On a rainy Monday afternoon, the funeral procession went from the International Airport to Mexico City’s historic center. People lined the streets, waving white handkerchiefs and flowers as they bid goodbye to the friend, the idol, the songwriter.
The musical homage began with tenor Rodrigo de la Mora, accompanied by Juan Gabriel’s own Mariachi Es Mi Tierra.
Others who performed were Aida Cuevas, Mexico’s most important female mariachi singer in recent years, Lucía Mendez and Alejandra Avalos. On Tuesday, Sonora Santanera added a tropical touch to the musical performances.