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Expect a Dry 4th of July Weekend

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

My mom enjoys a margarita on the rocks while on vacation in Mexico.While sports fans are biting their nails and Americans are celebrating their independence this Sunday, Mexican voters will be at the polls electing city and state officials. This includes the next mayor and governor of Puebla. July 4, 2010, is Election Day in Mexico, and foreigners traveling or living in the area should consider two important facts when making weekend plans:

1. It is illegal for foreigners to participate in politics in any way.

2. The sale of alcohol is forbidden nationwide 24 hours before and on the day elections are held in Puebla. That means no beer, wine, or margaritas may be purchased between 12:01 a.m. Saturday and 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

How serious are these laws? The first rule has been part of the Mexican Constitution since 1917. That document strictly bars all non-citizens from participating in politics, from demonstrations to voting. “The right to assemble or associate peaceably for any lawful purpose cannot be restricted; but only citizens of the Republic may do so to take part in the political affairs of the country,” says Article 9. Article 33 later states: “Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country.” To read the entire document in English, click here.

The second rule, known as la ley seca (or the “dry law”), was first applied in the state of Sonora in 1915 and later became part of Article 239 of the Cofipe, the federal code that governs elections. The idea was to “discourage violence and abstentionism,” according to the Latin American Institute via The Free Library. The national law was repealed in 2006, but many state and local governments continue to abide by it. This includes the city of Puebla.

“We know that this sometimes creates discomfort, but today more than ever it is necessary to prevent and manage conflicts,” Mayor Blanca Alcalá told Milenio today.

Visitors, foreign residents, and naturalized citizens (none of whom are allowed to vote) may drink alcohol, as long as they purchase it before midnight on Friday. Any American hoping to toast his or her independence with a margarita on Sunday is advised to plan ahead — and be prepared to mix their own.

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