Arts & Entertainment

Colombia recognizes Viche, dignifying Afro-Colombian heritage

By Klarem Valoyes and Ernesto Guzmán Jr.

Triana, Colombia, Oct 3 (EFE).- After years of being stigmatized, viche, an artisanal liquor popular among the Afro-Colombian communities from Colombia’s Pacific coast, has finally been recognized by the government.

Extracted from sugar cane, the ancestral ‘liquid gold’ is lifeblood for local communities that are often forgotten by the state.

From treating asthma, helping boost fertility, improving brain activity, relieving menstrual pain to attracting love, the ‘liquid gold’ has become the go-to medicine for isolated villages where public health care isn’t an option.

But after years of being treated as an illegal substance, the government has finally agreed to recognize the liquor and protect the knowledge that has been passed on from generation to generation as cultural heritage.

“It is a giant step forward (…) for our invisible community,” Gilberto Montaño, a local producer from Guapi in Cauca, told Efe.

“Viche is culture, viche is heritage, viche is life for our communities,” he added.

Now, Montaño no longer needs to hide his work from the government and can make the liquor in freedom.

“We have always been persecuted because (viche) has been treated as illegal, with this recognition we can say that we are empowered nationally and internationally,” he said.

Viche emerged with freed black slaves of the Colombian Pacific, when they found an alcoholic substance in unripe sugarcane that enabled them to liven up their parties and rituals as well as cure illnesses.

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