At least 37 people died between Nov. 24 and Dec. 20 in Bogota for having consumed adulterated liquor containing methanol. According to local media reports, 7 others are hospitalized in critical condition.
In Bogota, the number of intoxications due to the ingestion of low-cost adulterated liquor, usually sold in unauthorized establishments or on the street, has shot up in the last weeks, coinciding with the arrival of the Christmas celebrations.
Among the main people affected by the consumption of this type of fraudulent beverages are homeless and unemployed people, informal workers, and street vendors between 40 and 69 years old, some of whom suffer from alcoholism problems, Bogota's Health Secretary Juan Carlos Bolívar told reporters.
Mixed with alcohol, methanol can cause serious damage to the nervous system, blurred vision, blindness and intolerance to light, increased respiratory rate, muscle weakness, coma, and even death.
Health authorities have launched an awareness campaign against purchasing unbelievably inexpensive spirits and urged retailers not to trade uncertified products. Those who commercialize, distribute, imitate, or simulate alcoholic beverages face between 5 and 11 years in jail.
In this scenario, Colombian President Gustavo Petro has announced he is to spend his first Christmas Eve as head of state by having dinner with 800 homeless people at the Casa de Nariño Presidential Palace in Bogotá.
According to local press reports, hosting such an event is a top priority for the South American country's first-ever leftwing head of government. A gazebo is to be set together with proper lighting and music arrangements for the Christmas and New Year's Eve festivities.
We are going to make a big Christmas dinner for the street dwellers of Bogota. It will be in these halls, Petro said in an interview with Semana magazine Vicky Dávila a few days ago. Petro intends to share food with the street dwellers who roam downtown the Colombian capital.
When he was mayor of Bogota, Petro paid special attention to the needs of the underprivileged and launched the so-called Ambulatory Medical Centers for the care of drug addicts (Camad), where street dwellers were taken care of.
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