(CNN in Spanish) — For about nine months, Zapopan – a municipality adjacent to Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco, in western Mexico – has been allowed to fine up to US$827 on those who organize or participate in sports on public roads causing inconvenience to neighbors and passers-by. or by motorists.
On Tuesday, the country’s Supreme Court of Justice invalidated this principle, considering the wording of the article that dealt with this punishment vague, in addition to violating the right to physical culture and exercise.
The punishment was known in the municipality as the “Cascareta Law”, the common name for unofficial street football matches often played in Mexico.
Before devoting himself to politics, the mayor of Zapopan, Juan José Frangie of the Ciudadano Movement party, was the general manager of Deportivo Guadalajara, Las Chivas, one of the most popular and fan-favorite football teams in Mexico and the United States. . .
What are the modifications and penalties?
Last December, the Zapopan Council approved amendments to the Police and Good Government Regulations. And it decided in Article 57, Section Twelve, that sports activities outside the places designated for that are considered “a violation of collective well-being, freedoms, order and public peace.”
Organizing or participating in the practice of individual or group games or sports of any kind in a public place outside the places designated for them, which leads to disturbance to people or their property who are present in, participate in or pass through, or which causes disturbance to persons who live in or in the immediate vicinity of the place where they occur, or who prevent the free movement of vehicles and/or persons in the areas provided for such effect; as long as no damage is caused,” the regulation states.
Immediately after the amendments were approved, the members of the Council approved by a majority the income law in force for the year 2023, in which they imposed economic penalties ranging from 133 to 827 US dollars on those who cause inconvenience to people or their property “because of practicing individual or group games or sports outside the designated places.”
Councilors from the Morena and Futuro parties told CNN they voted against the economic penalty because they viewed it as a massive tax hike. Nevertheless, the Income Act was approved by a majority, and the votes were in favor of the members of the Council of the Ciudadano Movement.
Opinion of Supreme Court justices
The Legal Adviser to the Presidency of the Republic and the National Human Rights Commission ruled against this measure and filed an appeal of unconstitutionality before the Supreme Press Court, which, after analyzing the case, agreed with the plaintiffs.
The ministers considered that the wording of the article was ambiguous and that it “delegated a wide margin of discretion to both municipal authorities and individuals who expressed their discomfort with playing games or sports.”
The chair of the Treasury Committee of the Jalisco Congress, Claudia Salas, told CNN that, in addition to Zapopan, the municipalities of San Juan de los Lagos and Talpa de Allende imposed sanctions in the same area.
He added that with the Supreme Court ruling, lawmakers now have a clear indication of how to act when a municipality wants to include a fine of this kind.
Although he acknowledged that this punishment is controversial because the rights of both parties are at stake: the rights of those who want to occupy the public space, but also those who might be harmed by this appropriation.
“Two rights compete: the right to public space and the right to the city; and the right not to be subjected to any act of nuisance outside my garage without my car being “glass-beaten” or damaged. He stressed that there are two equal rights to health that compete.
Is it a class scale?
Morena council member Alejandro Puerto said that this measure, in addition to tax collection, is in place because it affects residents with fewer resources, most of whom do not have adequate, decent and authorized spaces for exercise.
“The most dangerous neighborhoods do not have parks, there are no green areas, and at the same time people make the streets their own for children to play and people to live together. It punishes these people doubly,” he said.
Puerto explained that Zapopan (the municipality with the largest population in Jalisco – 1.4 million people – according to the 2020 Population and Housing Census prepared by INEGI) has about 90 sports units.
He added, “There are not enough sports spaces for the entire population, and the concentration of sports infrastructure is not in the most densely populated areas, which are the most vulnerable and extremely marginalized.”
Pedro Kumamoto of the Futuro party said that in addition to the shortage of sports units in the municipality, the current government headed by Frangie has given some of these spaces to individuals.
He concluded by saying, “We have to understand that our cities should be spaces for coexistence, enjoyment, entertainment, sports, culture and entertainment.”
CNN requested to speak with an official from the Zapopan City Council, but no response has yet been received.
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