The "Slow Death", a homemade alcohol, kills 9 people in a village on New Year's Eve in Venezuela

Eva Deschamps / January 7, 2023

The "Slow Death", so the inhabitants of Chivacoa, agricultural village of the center-west of Venezuela have nicknamed the adulterated alcohol which cost the life to 9 persons during the celebrations of the New Year. Sixteen other persons were hospitalized, confirmed the governor of Yaracuy Julio Leon evoking a "ethylic intoxication of an artisanal product not approved by the sanitary authorities ».
The consumption of such low-cost artisanal beverages has spread, especially in the working-class neighborhoods of large cities and in the villages of the interior of the country affected by an unprecedented economic crisis.
A few drops of the yellowish liquid remained in bottles perched in the garden of the house... The party with musicians went on late into the night in a house in Pueblo Nuevo. No one suspected that a few hours later, the deaths would follow one another.
It started on January 1 when he lost his sight. He was very dizzy," recalls Joselyn Oropeza, a 27-year-old housewife, of her uncle Oswaldo Oviedo, one of the victims. Oviedo was attending the funeral of another deceased when his symptoms worsened, forcing him to go to a health center.
The deaths were added throughout the week. "We are going through a painful moment (...), most of the deceased are friends and partly brothers too", regrets Winder Campos, brother of Manuel Campos, while coming back from the cemetery where he rests.
We don't know what they were really up to," says Oropeza, but "it's very strange that so many people died in such a short time, three days. The source of the alcohol is not yet known. The police want to find the suppliers, but the person who sold it without control and brought it to the party also died from consumption. »
Authorities interviewed relatives and visited the house where the party was held. They took samples of the little alcohol left for laboratory analysis. A police source told AFP that the alcohol was adulterated with methanol, a substance that can cause blindness, liver damage and ultimately death.
As the investigation into the "slow death" progresses, traumatized neighbors gather and chat on plastic chairs in the street in front of their homes. They talk about the victims. Doris Barico, 56 years old, mourns her older brother Carlos, 57 years old: "He led a very good life, very happy ».
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