Venezuela banning sale of alcohol, fireworks and weapons ahead of elections

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |  Nov. 30, 2015 at 2:45 PM
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CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Venezuela announced it will suspend the sale of alcoholic beverages, fireworks and weapons before Sunday's parliamentary elections.

The sale, distribution and marketing of alcoholic beverages and fireworks will be banned starting Friday at 6 p.m., and will not be lifted until next Monday at 6 p.m. The government said the decision was made jointly by Venezuela's Ministry for the Interior, Justice and Peace (MPPRIJP) and the Ministry of Defense, and said the suspension was necessary for "public safety" and to ensure "security during election day."

"The measure must be applied to all traders dedicated to the sale of liquor, such as supermarkets, grocery stores, bodegas, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and liquor stores," MPPRIJP said in a statement.

Permits for the possession and use of firearms and knives will be also be suspended for the same period, but the restriction will not apply to members of the Venezuela's National Armed Forces and National Police. Cargo shipments will also be suspended from Saturday at 6 p.m. until Monday at 6 p.m.

Venezuela is preparing for parliamentary elections on Sunday, when President Nicolás Maduro's ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) could see significant losses. The Democratic Unity Roundtable, a coalition of 29 political parties united in opposition to Maduro, could win a majority in Venezuela's National Assembly.

The coalition, which goes by MUD, the acronym for its name in Spanish, is hoping to build on the discontent on display at last year's massive nationwide protests that called for improved security, an end to food shortages and more freedom of speech. About 43 people died in the protests, including both government supporters and opponents.

On Wednesday, Luis Diaz, an opposition leader in Venezuela, was shot to death as part of renewed political violence ahead of the election.

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