Mixed opinions on bill that would criminalize drinking alcohol in public places
The joy and essence of the Dominicans overflow in every corner. In the Dominican Republic, life is celebrated with a contagious rhythm that finds its maximum expression in the popular “juntas” and with alcoholic beverages consumed outdoors.
However, this panorama could change, as the Chamber of Deputies is currently debating a bill that could significantly impact those who engage in this practice. The legislative proposal seeks to impose disciplinary prison sentences on those caught consuming alcohol in public spaces, such as streets, sidewalks, or parks.
This measure has provoked broad opinions and reactions among the population. On the one hand, some support the initiative, arguing that restricting alcohol consumption in public places could contribute to a safer and more orderly environment, potentially decreasing the problems associated with excessive consumption of alcohol in open spaces.
On the other hand, there are critical voices that oppose the bill, arguing that the prohibition of alcohol consumption in public places infringes on the freedom of the population and limits the cultural and social expression of Dominicans. They argue that festive traditions and outdoor coexistence are fundamental elements of the Dominican identity and that the imposition of criminal sanctions could negatively affect the country’s social dynamics.
Diego Herrera, who was relaxing with two friends in a colmado, understands that the project would not be accepted in the country since this action is something “very Dominican,” and to prohibit it would be taking away the essence that makes them happy.
Herrera is of Venezuelan nationality and expressed that one of the reasons that motivated him to live in the country is “the joy in the streets socializing with alcoholic beverages.”
Another man, who asked not to be identified, stated that the Chamber of Deputies would not accept the bill.
“The drink must be sold wherever it is and drink it wherever you like, that is all I am going to say,” he said.
The bill was filed by Congressman Agustin Burgos, representative of La Vega for the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), who alleges in the bill that the State must guarantee public order.
The main article of the initiative establishes the prohibition of the sale, sale, distribution, and consumption of alcoholic beverages in public spaces without any exception.
José Perdomo considers that if this measure is accepted, it could be somewhat “arbitrary and abusive” and therefore believes that it will only remain a project and will not become a reality.
“There are more important things that they could focus on. I think it is a very traditional aspect of Dominican culture, and as long as they don’t do it with disorder, I don’t see anything wrong. I think that if in the matter of garbage and that, yes, we could do a better job,” noted Holguín Medrano.
Meanwhile, Rafael Antonio Santana expressed that the lower house should attend to and prioritize other projects, for which he urged the legislators not to provoke the community members of the neighborhoods “who are calm.”
However, Mr. Edwin Encarnacion argues that the measure is necessary to maintain order and security in public areas. “Often, alcohol consumption on public roads leads to situations of conflict and disorder. I believe this law could deter those who disturb the peace in our community,” he commented.
Juan Martinez expressed concern about the negative influence that alcohol consumption in public spaces can have on children. “It is uncomfortable to take my children to the park and find people drinking alcohol. A measure like this could create a safer and healthier environment for our families,” Martinez said.
“Punishing those who consume alcohol in public spaces with jail time is an extreme measure. We should focus on educational campaigns and less punitive solutions,” Martinez maintains.
About the proposal
According to the proposal, the infraction of consuming alcohol in public places will be considered a crime that will be punished with penalties of up to 30 days of correctional imprisonment or fines that reach up to 30 minimum wages.
To execute the law, the proponent establishes that the Ministry of Interior and Police will have three months to draft a regulation to govern the new regulation after it is enacted.
In the bill’s allegations, Burgos states that the excessive consumption of alcohol causes health and social damages, including mental illnesses, intentional injuries, and metabolic affections.
He understands that the consumption of alcoholic beverages brings consequences for other people and also entails violence, non-compliance with responsibilities, and social nuisance.
“The sale and consumption of alcohol in inappropriate places and at inappropriate times causes uneasiness, anxiety, and anguish among neighbors and, on occasions, even leads to acts of violence that end in death,” pointed out Deputy Burgos.