In the final hours of 2020, Bella Thorne plans to host a New Year’s Eve bash at the Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico—the same resort where, just three days earlier, authorities found the body of a 21-year-old hotel worker who had been missing since Dec. 18.
Ana Gomez had worked as a dishwasher at the hotel for the past six months, according to Michelle Cuervo, a native of Chiapas who’s been living in Quintana Roo, a Mexican state on the Yucatán Peninsula, for 20 years, and Tulum for 11 years. Cuervo frequents the hotel and has friends who work there.
On Monday, local authorities located Gomez’s body in a green space some 900 yards from a highway in the town of Solidaridad, according to a statement from the Quintana Roo State Attorney General’s Office. Euro Weekly News reported that hotel workers use the area as a path to get from the main road to the hotel building.
“This girl, Ana, was a young woman from Chiapas who was a steward (dishwasher) at the Hard Rock Café Riviera Maya, and she got lost (on) the 18th of December,” said Cuervo. “So her father, this indigenous guy from Chiapas who barely speaks Spanish, he came to look for her. The hotel was doing nothing about it.”
“After 10 days, they found the body on the premises of the Hard Rock. The hotel is not claiming responsibility, and the father has no money, so people had to chip in (to transport the body).” (The Hard Rock Hotel did not respond to multiple requests for comment; attempts to reach the victim’s family were unsuccessful.)
For days, Thorne has been promoting an end-of-year party with Diplo held at a “secret location,” where she plans to give away $50,000 to fans who helped promote the event on Instagram. The event also advertised a sweepstakes for two fans to win two nights at the luxury resort. Thorne has not specified how many guests will attend the New Year’s party or whether social-distancing and mask-wearing protocols would be enforced. Testing, she said, will be provided, though day-of testing is not guaranteed to prevent a COVID outbreak. While local authorities have officially prohibited large events in the region owing to the pandemic, many have still been taking place.
The Daily Beast spoke to an administrative staffer at the Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya who confirmed that the Bella Thorne New Year’s Eve bash was happening at their hotel Thursday night. But they added that “the organizers putting on the event said that we cannot give any information about it.” The Daily Beast also reviewed a copy of the lease reserving the hotel on Dec. 31 for the Bella Thorne event.
“The death of Ana is kind of national news right now,” said Cuervo. “The party going on, there is not so much (information) as it’s supposed to be in a secret location.”
“In principle, the event is illegal because they are prohibited by the pandemic,” said another Hard Rock Hotel worker who spoke to The Daily Beast under the condition of anonymity to protect their job. “So while ordinary people can’t have parties, inside the hotel there are. It has misleading advertising, but it’s a party with Bella Thorne.”
Hours before Gomez’s body was found, feminist groups in Mexico had protested the hotel to demand more information about her disappearance. The organizations, including Siempre Unidos and Mujeres Mayas Quintana Roo, called on the hotel to release CCTV footage of Gomez’s last known sighting. Protesters carried signs that read “Justice for Ana.”
“We demand that the Hard Rock Riviera Maya hotel take responsibility for what happened,” the Quintana Roo Feminist Network told SDPNoticias. “They must provide all information that can help clarify the facts, support the victim’s family to solve this tragedy and we demand that they make the recordings available of the security cameras to carry out the corresponding investigation.”
The hotel’s Instagram has been mobbed by comments asking the same question: “¿Donde está Ana?” On Wednesday, local authorities arrested a suspect believed to have been involved in her disappearance. Quintana Roo Attorney General Óscar Montes de Oca Rosales identified the man only as “Carlos G.” According to Euro Weekly News, the man was also a hotel employee, working as a security guard.
“Here, the people are very sad about the young girl, and about the government,” said the Hard Rock worker. “The parties are prohibited, but if you are a Hollywood star, you can do it. You can not use masks or any recommendations to stay safe. So, this is the situation… While at the door of the hotel they demonstrated for the murder and rape of the young woman who worked there, inside life goes on as normal.”
Representatives for Thorne and Diplo did not immediately respond to requests for comment. On social media, Thorne said she’d arrived in Tulum after filming a new movie in Italy. Videos on Instagram show Thorne partying with her boyfriend and two sisters. She claimed the whole group had been tested for COVID-19 upon arrival.
“Her family and friends are staying in the hotel, and it’s a big production. They’ve been partying here for days, and tonight is the big party,” said the Hard Rock staffer.
“The Mexican manager said in front of me and several of his employees that it does not matter if Bella or her companions test positive, or the influencers, that they can do whatever they want.”
According to the employee, several members of the Hard Rock Hotel staff have tested positive for COVID-19—but that won’t stop the party from happening as planned. “The Mexican manager said in front of me and several of his employees that it does not matter if Bella or her companions test positive, or the influencers, that they can do whatever they want,” they said. “But I did see other people who tested positive who were immediately taken out of the hotel.”
Meanwhile, for months, activists in Mexico have been calling for justice following a spate of femicides. Since the onset of the pandemic, CNN reported, homicides against women have spiked. In April, 267 women were murdered in the country, making it the deadliest month for the past five years. Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, local outlets say, 860 femicides have been reported.
Gomez wasn’t the first worker to go missing from the hotel. In 2017, a hotel worker named Elizabeth Ricalde vanished shortly after leaving the same Hard Rock, local outlets reported. Her whereabouts remain unknown.
“They’re pretending nothing is happening—it’s like business as usual,” Cuervo said. “A lot of workers there have gotten COVID, and when they do, they get sent home. And now they’re throwing this party with Bella Thorne. They don’t give a fuck about their employees.”