A weekend-long prohibition on the consumption and sale of alcohol was enforced throughout Colombia on Saturday as citizens ready themselves for the country’s Congressional elections on Sunday.
The country-wide temporary “Dry Law” imposed by authorities prevent the sale of alcohol in most cities from 6PM Satuday to 6AM Monday.
Within the same decree, the Interior Ministry has also set a number of rules and guidelines to be adhered to on election day for media outlets, political gatherings and campaign rallies, public transport services, and a restriction on firearms.
Article 13 in Decree 415 states that no alcohol should be consumed or sold during the set period over the weekend of Congressional elections, however, local authorities — such as state governors and mayors — can alter the timespan of its application within their respective jurisdictions.
Local governments from the major urban centres of Bogota, Medellin, Cali and Bucaramanga have adhered to the required period with only the Interior Secretary of Cartagena altering the Article and imposing the law from 6AM on Saturday until 6AM on Tuesday.
Similar laws are enforced during elections in a number of Latin American countries including Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela — which applies the law on election day only.
Electoral Propaganda, Campaign Rallies and Media Transmissions
Guidelines for gatherings are defined under Article 2, which states that until Monday March 10 any political meetings and rallies taking place may only be conducted indoors and not in public spaces. No new political propaganda — such as posters and billboards — may not be erected or “placed in any type of land vehicle, ship or aircraft,” during election day.
Additionally, a number of points for media reporting on election day have been outlined — including guidelines on broadcasting, interviewing candidates and party members, and the restriction on the broadcast of electoral projections based on data received from survey results or based on statements taken from voters regarding their vote. The transmission of all political propaganda through radio, print and television, as well as mobile services is prohibited.
Firearms, Public Transport and Border Closure
A nation-wide restriction on permits allowing firearms to be carried has also been applied over the weekend and will last until Wednesday March 12.
As the elections take place on a Sunday, mass transport systems and public transport companies active in both urban and regional areas are, under Article 17 of the Decree, required to provide services to the public at no less than 80% of their capacity, and may only charge the standard fees set by the local authorities.
According to the Medellin Mayor’s Office, the city’s “Metro” mass transport system — which includes rail, buses, and cable cars — will provide free transport throughout the metropolitan area from 6 AM to 6 PM on election day.
The southern city of Cali has taken additional security measures by prohibiting any type of vehicle to be parked near polling stations until 6 AM on Monday March 10.
The Interior Ministry has also ordered the closure of all land and river border crossings, which Colombian shares with Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Panama, from 4 AM Saturday 8 to 4 PM Monday March 9.
- Decreto 415 (Ministry de Interior)
- Definidas la seguridad y la logistica para las elecciones del domingo en Bogota (Bogota Mayor’s Office Press Release)
- Alcaldía de Medellín anuncia medidas de prevención y seguridad para la jornada de elecciones del domingo 9 de marzo (Medellin Mayor’s Office Press Release)
- Alcaldía expide decreto que establece medidas de seguridad y movilidad por las elecciones del 9 de marzo (Cartagena Mayor’s Office Press Release)
- Alcalde decreto prohibiciones ciudadanas para dar seguridad en elecciones (Government Secretary of Cali Press Release)