The Colombian government has officially recognized Viche, an Afro-Colombian moonshine, as a ‘cultural and ancestral heritage’ drink. This decision marks a significant acknowledgment of the contributions of African Colombians and opens potential avenues for economic development in marginalized communities.
Afro-Colombians, representing a significant proportion of Colombia’s population, face considerable economic challenges. The majority live in poverty, and many lack access to essential services like water and sanitation. The infant mortality rate in these communities is notably higher than the national average, highlighting the disparities they face.
Viche, with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of about 35%, is made from raw sugar cane, herbs, and fruits. It is a potent liquor, traditionally prepared by Afro-Colombian women, and believed to have medicinal properties and to be a remedy for snakebites. The drink’s preparation and consumption are deeply rooted in Afro-Colombian culture.
A law awaiting President Petro’s approval could allow for the large-scale production of Viche. This development is anticipated to create economic opportunities for local producers. Lucia Solís, a local Viche distiller, sees this as an opportunity for increased distribution and economic growth.
Colombian lawmaker Jhon Arley Murillo emphasizes that Viche is more than just a liquor; it represents the history, culture, and traditional knowledge of Afro-Colombians. The recognition of Viche is viewed positively by local business organizers, who see it as a promising development for the traditional drink and the communities involved.
The future of Viche in Colombia
The acknowledgment of Viche as a cultural and ancestral heritage item marks a significant step in both cultural conservation and the creation of economic avenues for Afro-Colombians. The prospect of its large-scale production, contingent on forthcoming legislative endorsement, is poised to influence the socio-economic fabric of these communities.
This recognition transcends the realm of the alcoholic drinks industry, symbolizing a broader movement towards appreciating and valuing the cultural legacy of Afro-Colombians. It potentially sets the stage for more initiatives aimed at tackling the deep-rooted challenges faced by this community, including poverty, limited access to essential services, and health disparities.