The Ley Seca in Peru

Pilsen Callao
Photo © Tony Dunnell

The ley seca (literally “dry law”) is a form of temporary prohibition used in various Latin American countries during national elections. The law prohibits the sale of alcohol for a predetermined number of days, typically beginning a few days before an election and ending shortly after.

The idea behind the ley seca is the promotion of order and general clear-headedness while the population votes for a new President. Some countries may also choose to enforce the law (sometimes partially) during regional or departmental elections, certain religious holidays or during times of political or civil unrest.

In Peru, the ley seca is defined by the Ley Orgánica de Elecciones (Organic Law of Elections). During a ley seca period, the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited throughout the country. This applies to all establishments, including bars, discos, gas stations and stores.

During the 2011 Presidential election, a fine of S/.1,650 (US$630) was handed out to anyone caught selling alcohol during the ley seca. Despite the threat of a fine, many establishments continued to sell alcohol, albeit more discretely than normal.

Ley Seca 2016

For the 2016 Presidential Election in Peru on April 10, the ley seca is officially defined as follows: "It is the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic beverages of any kind from 8 a.m. on the day before the election, to 8 a.m. on the day following the election. The consumption of liquor in public places is also prohibited."

Private parties, therefore, are allowed -- just make sure to stock up on alcohol before the ley seca begins.

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