Saturday, August 9, 2008

Latin American Elections and Alcohol

Back in 2006, I was in the Federal District of Mexico for that country's presidential elections. I was flabbergasted that, come election night, I couldn't find a cantina in which to grab a beer and a shot of tequila. It turned out that alcohol sales are prohibited in Mexico the day of the election.

I always thought that a rule like that was an example of what is disparagingly referred to in the U.S. as the "nanny state," where the government has to step in to make sure the child citizens don't misbehave. Of course, there is no doubt that alcohol inflames passions, as anyone who's stepped into a bar knows. And Latin American politics are a flash point for the populaces (as the videos below illustrate). So while I can understand (barely) an alcohol ban on Election Day, I hope we estadosenidenses would never accept it up north (it's un-American, like torture.)

So imagine my bafflement, my dismay, my consternation to find out late on Friday that Bolivia law decrees no alcohol sales for 48 hours before the polls open! Shopping in my local Hipermaxi, I found row after row of wine with plastic sheeting cover each shelf, a sign announcing that sales were prohibited. Noting the hour, and seeing that store management was overzealous in its timing, I rushed to another supermarket, only to see that it too had suspended wine sales, alas. On the way, the bars that would normally be opening their doors at that time were all padlocked shut. We were on booze lockdown.

Happily, I passed an upscale bistro on my way home, where I noticed couples at tables with partially filled glasses of wine. I poked my head in and shouted out, "¿Hay vino aquí?", and when I recieved and affirmative I sat down and quickly quaffed down two glasses.

It's the day before the election now, and the city is nearly shut down. There's bound to be some action on the street today and tonight. Stay tuned for some very sober coverage.

No comments: