Life in Guatemala

Presidential Election

Tomorrow, October 24, is the runoff election for president of Guatemala. The choice is between former first lady Sandra Torres and comedian Jimmy Morales.

This has been quite a year for politics in Guatemala. Corruption scandals and huge popular protests forced the resignation of both vice president Roxanna Baldetti and president Otto Perez Molina. As voters go to the polls, the former leaders await their trials in jail (albeit extraordinarily nice jails, I’m sure).

But this article isn’t about politics. It’s about the feature of Guatemalan elections that affects tourists: the dry law.

Like many Latin American countries, Guatemala bans the sale of alcohol from noon on Saturday until Monday morning. The theory is that voters will go to the polls sober. The practice is that people stock up. Though bars miss out on their Saturday night sales, it’s not unheard of for restaurants to serve drinks in coffee cups. Visiting during an elections is an aspect of being a tourist few people think about.

I’ll be performing at a Panajachel restaurant on election night. It will be my first time seeing the dry law in action at a restaurant that caters to tourists and Guatemalans alike. We’ll see how the tourists respond…


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