One major difference between Colombia and Europe is that Mother’s Day is generally given far more importance.
This year, these levels of importance have been taken up a notch. In the city of Cali, it has been decided that Ley Seca (a law prohibiting the consumption and sale of alcohol between the hours of 10am this Saturday morning until 6am on Tuesday morning) will be put in place this year. There will also be police controls on main roads and major routes in and out of the city, with a total of 8,000 policemen on the streets.
The Mayor of Cali, Maurice Armitage, along with Metropolitan Police General Hugo Casas, made the announcement yesterday claiming that the reason for their decision is because Mother’s Day often becomes the “most violent date in the city”.
The announcement has provoked protests from businessmen and women across the city, as Ley Seca only tends to be applied when there is electoral voting. Even tourist sectors have spoken out against the decision to ban alcohol for almost the entire duration of this weekend, which also happens to be a bank holiday weekend in Colombia.
The main motives behind their protests focused on the commercial loss that the prohibition the sale of alcohol will impose this bank holiday weekend.
Indeed, annual reports have suggested that violence rates have been among the highest on this particular weekend in Cali over the last seven years. According to El Tiempo, on average 15 crimes are committed, in addition to the 69 people wounded and over 600 fights that have been registered.
However, protests in favour of the decision to impose Ley Seca have also taken place. For example, a protest in Cali’s famous plazoleta del CAM saw women from eastern zones of the city gather in support of the Mayor’s decision, holding banners which read, “Mother’s Day: Day of Life”.
In conversation with local Cali newspaper El País, social leader Albastella Barreto explained, “it’s us mothers who have to look after drunk men and, in the majority of cases, people die. We didn’t give birth so that our children would die, but so that they would live.” She also proposed that Ley Seca should not only encompass alcohol, but also drugs.
Observers will be looking closely at whether the law results in lesser crime. What’s certain is that this Mother’s Day businesses will suffer and mothers will be unable to have a celebratory drink with their children. In the end, it’s caleños who will be losing out this weekend.