The mayor of a town in northern Colombia is trying to make it illegal to die inside the borders of his municipality.
In a move that seems inspired more by a Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story than the political realities of modern Colombia, the mayor has confirmed his intention to ban death.
But Roberto Celedon, mayor of Baranoa in northern Colombia, has a serious point.
“In [the cemetery in] Baranoa there’s no longer space to fit any dead people,” he told reporters. “When a family’s loved one dies, they can’t find any available spots.”
Celedon wants the government to provide the necessary funding to create a new cemetery outside the town. Meanwhile, the mayor wants to issue a decree banning death.
The town’s population joked about their mayor’s announcement: “where are they going to bury us, in prison?” said one. Another wondered where they would find the “elixir of life”, in case the bill is passed.
This is not the first time an authority has tried to ban death.
In the 5th century BC for example, the Delphic Oracle commanded that all those buried on the Greek island of Delos should be exhumed and then shipped somewhere else, to purify the island. This was followed by a decree that no-one should die there. It is unclear what the punishment was.