Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Colombia: Shooting a gun in the air will get you a lesser fine than urinating in the street

Fines imposed on people committing a number of minor infractions have just increased exponentially in Bogotá, Colombia.

Clara López, secretary of the Bogotá Government's Office, said that these fines, as determined by the National Police Code, had not been updated or changed for more than 39 years, and were often seen as a joke even by the police officers who were trained to enforce them.

López told El Tiempo that the fees for these fines had been updated to reflect the increase in cost of life since 1970 so that throwing litter on the streets, which would have brought a penalty of 3 to 5 US cents just last month, will now cost you 16 to 32 US dollars (using today's conversion rate for the Colombian peso).

The changes come in light of a series of increasingly violent fan-driven public fights inside and outside soccer stadiums. "People who disturb the normal development of social activities, including in stadiums", the paper says, will now pay a fine of 1,315 dollars.

The 1,315 dollar rate is the highest fine mentioned but it also applies to having "sexual relations in a public place" and "urinating in public".

Interestingly, burning one's house down intentionally - which will now cost you a still paltry 162 to 324 dollars - or shooting a gun in an open space - which now elicits a fine of 324 to 648 dollars - will bring a much lesser charge than being caught having sex or urinating in public. My concern is that both those charges might be used to harass LGBT folk out in the street late at night, just as similar laws have been used elsewhere in Latin America to entrap gays and lesbians.

Another fine that caught my eye: The lowest fine of 16 to 32 US dollars applies if you are caught not raising the Colombian flag outside your home on national holidays.


libhom said...

Nothing the Columbian dictatorship would do could surprise me anymore. Between their death squads, their arrests of political opponents, and keeping universities under a state of siege they are starting to remind me of the military juntas that used to rule in Chile and Argentian.

libhom said...

Typo: the last post should say "Argentina"