As 2nd ‘dry law’ end approaches, survey finds little public support

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A month after it was first initiated, a clear majority is against Yucatan’s dry law, according to a poll conducted over the weekend.

The ban on alcohol sales, meant to calm communities under stress from the coronavirus crisis, is a bad idea, according to nearly 61% of respondents in a survey published by Reporteros Hoy.

Only 11.5% completely agree with the ban, 23.5% agree somewhat and 4.1% had no opinion on the controversial subject. A total of 1,487 readers participated in the online poll.

The dry law is due to expire Friday, but could be renewed by lawmakers, as they did in April. The ban has reduced traffic accidents and incidents of drunken behavior, but has also backfired on several fronts.

Writer and explorer Sergio Grosjean Abimerhi indicated in an accompanying story that the “ley seca,” as it is known in Spanish, was misguided.

The law spurred alcohol thefts at convenience stores, some elaborately plotted. An underground market also emerged that gouges addicted drinkers.

Ideally, wage-earners would have spent more money and time on family, but in real life, anyone with a drinking problem caved in to an exploitive black market.

A contraband carton of fat beer bottles known as “caguamas” or “loggerheads” can cost between 900 and 1,200 pesos, while rum fetches as much as 1,300 pesos, a price extracted by those with the fewest resources, according to the report.

Cash-strapped residents traded kitchen appliances, stereos and televisions for alcohol.

At least five residents died when drinking an adulterated, homemade concoction. And the organizer of a women’s shelter observed that the sudden measure only increased tensions at homes where domestic violence exists.

Expert advice was pushed aside as politicians acted on hunches or grabbed headlines, he said. A more nuanced approach would have controlled sales without a law that disenfranchises casual or occasional drinkers, said Grosjean Abimerhi.

Liquor in Campeche can only be sold between noon and 6 p.m. Quintana Roo imposed a dry law from March 27 to April 10, banning the purchase of booze after 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday and after 5 p.m. on Sundays.

The state of Sonora limited liquor sales based on the number of residents per each of its municipalities.

The National Alliance of Small Business Owners has called on the federal government to intervene and allow the sale of liquor at businesses, arguing that more than 500,000 are in jeopardy.

“The isolation at home is causing states of anxiety, desperation, and fear that could eventually lead to episodes of irritability and intolerance, friction and disagreements between family members,” the merchant’s association said.

“Spending all day together for over a month will have consequences and in this environment the consumption of beer at home works like a relaxant, a drink for use in moderation that contributes to enduring the strictest terms of this difficult test.”

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