Colombia’s Great Empanada Revolt
A $230 dollar fine for a man who bought a pastry from a street vendor triggered mass ridicule of Colombia’s police force and calls to “legalize empanada.”
Several people posted images of them challenging police with one of Colombia’most popular pastries while others called to march in protest of the seemingly ridiculous fine.
Bogota’s security secretary Daniel Mejia said earlier this month that Colombia’s capital was 9,000 policemen short to guarantee basic security, but as many as seven cops were available to fine Bogota resident Stiven Claros for buying his customary empanada.
“We arrived, we bought the empanada, the police saw us and didn’t tell us anything, but when we were eating they came to ask for our ID. I hadn’t finished eating, when they gave me the fine”.
The police took a while to respond, but said on Friday that the officers had acted according to the law.
An obscure article in the country’s police code prohibits “the promotion or facilitation of unduly use of public space,” which apparently applies to anyone buying something from one of the millions of street vendors in the country.
The fine for this violation of the law is more than four times higher than carrying a knife.
Bogota’s police department said that the policemen did warn the empanada eaters, but were ignored.
The incident sparked a wave of indignation. Empanadas are arguably the most popular snack in the country and are sold on virtually every street corner.
Multiple people offered to pay Carlos’ fine and a Facebook group with affinity to the country’s leftist opposition began organizing a “March to Legalize Empanadas” for next week.
More than 20,000 people said they would attend the march and almost 100,000 indicated to be interested in attending the march by Monday morning.
Meanwhile, Colombia’s notoriously corrupt police became the target of mass ridicule on social media with multiple people taking pictures and video of them eating empanadas in front of cops.