A day before Yucatan’s ban on alcohol sales was about to end, legislators Thursday night extended the “ley seca” through May 15.
The move surprises almost no one since the governor has hinted broadly on social media that there is no real end-date to the dry law, meant to discourage tourists and stem domestic violence during the coronavirus crisis.
Lawmakers pushed through a ” special edition” of the Official State Gazette, Decree 213/2020, to modify the timeframe for the ban of all alcohol sales in Yucatan. It is likely to be extended again once the new deadline comes along, unless infection rates drop dramatically.
As many as 36 new infections have been reported daily, and no fewer than 22 in the last week. On Wednesday, 25 new coronavirus cases were announced.
This is a “health prevention measure in the face of the state of emergency declared by the affectation of the pandemic by Covid-19,” states the decree.
The dry law, originally set to end tonight at midnight, not only enraged social drinkers. Unintended consequences have come from cutting off clinical alcoholics from beer and liquor, only increasing tension and violence in some households, said Fabiola García Magaña, director of the Women’s Institute of Mérida, which helps shelter domestic violence victims.
It has also spurred break-ins where liquor is stored as well as clandestine alcohol sales where a 20-peso can of Tecate Lights sells for nine times that amount.
“Anyone who likes drinking will get it even if it is expensive,” commented one local man in response to the news story when it broke.
But municipal officials have also reported that overall, the dry law has quieted their communities.
Various mayors issued a joint statement declaring that 911 calls and traffic accidents have decreased significantly, in some case by half.
The mayors of towns that include Yaxcabá, Tixkoko and Ticul cited a State Center for Public Security Information report showing the violence against women has been reduced by an average of 42.6% and suicide attempts have decreased 53.5%.
“Indeed, the rate of violence has been lowered because there are no longer people who come home intoxicated. When there is no sale of alcoholic beverages, the person does not have access to them and, therefore, no longer comes to the house to create disorder. Wives do not like her husband to drink, especially when he shows antisocial attitudes, ” said Yaxcabá Mayor Samson Israel Palma Santos.
News spread quickly on social media and the expat community appeared aghast.
“Cinco de Mayo without booze,” lamented one.
“He lied to us when he said April 30th,” said another. “Maybe he is after the ‘bootlegger and those selling moonshine’ vote. The affluent will still have to go to bootleggers while the poor have to go to those selling dangerous moonshine.”