Thursday, 30 January 2014

Dry Law

The Costa Rican 2014 Elections are taking place this Sunday, 2nd February.

A new President will be elected, along with two new vice-presidents and 57 Legislative Assembly lawmakers. The current incumbent, Laura Chinchilla Miranda (the first woman president in CR) is ineligible to run for a second term. Although praised by Baroness Kinnock, Chinchilla has recently been placed as the least popular president in Latin America!

Some of the candidates running include Johnny Araya, from the National Liberation Party; Otto Guevara from the Liberation Movement Party and Jose Villalta Florez-Estrada, from the Broad Front Party, the only Leftist party in the running. 

I am not authority of Costa Rican politics obviously, but in my naive opinion, Johhny Araya appears to be the favourite. His marketing team have been working very hard and Araya's face can be seen everywhere: from multiple roadside billboards to newspaper articles picturing him atop a horse at the recent Palmares Fiesta. Green and white flags, the colours of his party, are rife.

However what I find really 'charming' about the elections here is the antiquated 'Dry Law' that prevents alcohol being sold during the elections, and also during Easter Week. (Surfing the Web, it appears that Costa Rica is not the only country to follow this practice as Venezuela also endorses a similar measure during elections). Consequently, the Nationalist Tourist Chamber wants to eliminate the law, as do the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels, saying it is harmful to the tourist industry. In fact, early in 2012 the Legislative Assembly actually reformed 'Dry Law', allowing individual municipalities to choose if they wanted to enforce the law. Meanwhile, the San Jose authorities have stated that the law is tedious and unnecessary, 
“We believe that the country has sufficient maturity to carry out an electoral process and civic festivities without the need to stop commercial activities."

Perhaps 'Dry Law' will have the biggest effect on the Gringo's that live in Costa Rica, many of whom are not franchised to vote. It will mean that those residing in a 'dry' municipality will not be able to have a beer, or two, on what is perhaps the biggest sporting event in the States, Super Bowl Sunday. 

Can you imagine this happening in the UK? 

Thankfully, prohibition is a law that we Brits have never had to endure, and should it be bought about, I think a revolution may take place! (OK maybe not a revolution but perhaps a slight revolt). A ban on selling alcohol on the days where our most treasured sporting events take place would be absurd. What would Wimbledon be without quaffing champagne or the FA Cup Final without beer? Unimaginable, inconceivable and highly improbable! As for prohibition on Election Day, well that too would just be silly: part of the appeal of going to vote in the parish school, village hall or wherever your designated polling station is located, is going to the local pub afterwards for a 'swift half'. Or is that just me?


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