After 50 died in Ecuador this summer from consuming poisonous alcohol, critics say that the government response to buy back tainted products is insufficient and more education is needed.
After 50 dead, 600 hospitalizations, and 14 left blind from consuming poisonous moonshine, Ecuador’s contentious relationship with alcohol has once again flared.
The tiny Andean nation is the third largest consumer of alcohol per capita in Latin America, behind only Argentina and Guyana. While guzzling less than their European counterparts, Ecuadorians still consume 9.4 liters on average per year according to World Health Organization statistics. In response, the government has raised taxes, much to the chagrin of industry, and banned sales on Sundays, a move unpopular with the public at large.
Now some are blaming the government for the country’s worst alcohol-related tragedy ever. And critics say its response, focusing on a large-scale buyback program, has failed to keep the population safe. It is still unclear how quickly, if ever, the government will manage to obtain toxic alcohol still flowing around Ecuador.
The tragedy began in mid-July, after deadly intoxications in the southwestern province of Los Rios were reported.