Photo: Adulterated Alcohol in Ecuador
Half of the alcoholic beverages consumed in Ecuador, were produced illegally, so the government is being forced to buy them back to prevent a health crisis. Ecuadorian Public Health Minister David Chiriboga said that half of the alcoholic beverages consumed in Ecuador, are produced in small provincial factories that lack the proper sanitation permits, and seem to have been adding methyl alcohol to at least 14 widely distributed brands of liquor.
The Minister said 48 people have died and 243 others were left blind, or with permanent brain damage and other lesions as a result of drinking adulterated alcohol.
Before this week, authorities have seized more than 25,000 gallons of adulterated alcohol and launched a campaign called “Give up a Bottle of Alcohol and Save a Life,” hoping to retrieve at least half a million bottles of poisonous alcohol.
On Monday, the government announced they have set apart $400,000 from their national budget to purchase back bad booze from retailers, at a rate of $0.80 per bottle.
From August 29 to Sunday, September 4th, citizens, and retailers have been invited to bring sealed bottles and tetra-pak containers of alcohol corresponding to the last two months worth of production of 14 brands of liquor (mostly domestic fruit wines) identified as poisonous.
President Rafael Correa said that after Sunday, the government will stop paying .80 cents to whoever brings an alcohol bottle, and instead prosecute whoever is found to have adulterated liquor.
Ecuadorian law punishes with up to 5 years in jail those found to be selling products that threaten the life of people.