COLOMBIA NEWS — Authorities in major Colombian cities are again imposing bans on alcohol and curfews for Saturday to discourage out of control partying for World Cup game day.
Across the country, Colombia’s national police is adding thousands of extra officers to patrol the streets in major cities. Only a few big cities, including Medellin and Barranquilla, are bucking the trend.
Among the measures are a ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol, a ban on the carrying of weapons and restrictions on motorcycles. Although the ban hours will vary from one jurisdiction to another, the overall is from 6am Saturday morning to the same hour Sunday.
The restrictions are to reduce the vandalism and celebration-related deaths that have been common throughout Colombia. The most recent are the nine deaths following the Colombia win over Greece last June 14. Authorities say the ban reduced the number of incidents and deaths to one after the Japan win and two after the Ivory Coast game.
In cities like Cucuta, bordering Venezuela, mayor David Castillo said in addition to the alcohol, guns and motorcycles, unaccompanied minors will be barred from the streets all day.
Cartagena, Cali and Pereira were among major cities also imposing motorcycle bans.
In Cali, the Mayor Rodrigo Guerrero Velasco said the city is promoting its ““La Vida por Encima de los Partidos” (life ahead of the games) is banning all motorcycles between 2pm and 8pm and nightclubs can open only after 9pm.
In Cali and Bogota, the sale of flour and foam are also banned on all public streets.
Colombian fans in some regions shower each other in powdery corn flour during celebrations. According to Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro, the flour-showers might start as good fun, but often escalate into violence.
“Flour brings fights, and fights bring death,” the mayor said, after previously ordering his city’s police department to detain anyone seen throwing flour during revelries.
For many merchants the controls do not sit well with them.
“We waited 16 years to get back in the World Cup and they surprise us with these ‘dry law’ measures,” said Guillermo Botero, president of the National Federation of Retailers told USA Today. “They are practically forcing us to shut ourselves up in our houses.”
The loss to merchants in beer sales and liquor alone is estimated at US$15 million dollars. No estimates are available on the losses that retailers face from people staying home during the restrictions.
It was in 1998 when Colombia played in the World Cup the last time. Bans and restrictions were not part of the football (soccer) fever in those times.
In 1993, when the Colombians demolished the Argentinians 5.0 in a World Cup qualified, authorities attributed 60 deaths directly to the after party mayhem.