MAC: Mines and Communities

Colombia: Wayuu women weigh in on coal at UN Forum

Published by MAC on 2013-06-03
Source: Wayuu women's organisation SJW-FMW

The following is a statement delivered to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues by the Wayuu women's organisation SJW-FMW. on the situation in Colombia, focussing on the issue of the extractive industries.

It specifically condemns the failure to observe Indigenous Peoples' rights in the case of the Cerrejon and CCX coal mines. For recent article see: Britons got talons: Anglo American "nicely" rebuffs its critics

Statement of the Wayuu Indigenous Peoples

"She who possess the history of her people
carries the past, present and future of lives and souls
which survive in time, space and dreams"

Statement presented May 2013 at the 12th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples Issues in the United Nations New York - for the organization and movement of Sütsüin Jiyeyu Wayuu - Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu (SJW-FMW)

28 May 2013

Good afternoon members of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples Issues at its 12th session and to indigenous peoples attending the session.

In this statement the organization and movement Fureza de Mujeres Wayuu (SJW-FMW) (Force of Wayuu Women) an organization of women and men in Colombia, would like to share with you the reality of the Wayuu nation in relation to extractive projects in our territory, their relation with militarization, risks to food sovereignty of our population, displacement, deterioration of the armed conflict, loss of territory and traditional knowledge, impact to the environment and public health.

The declaration would also like to draw attention to the violation of the bilateral treaty on the borders between Colombia and Venezuela related to the free movement in the territory, which is currently leading to criminalization and stigmatization of the Wayuu people.

The reality of rights violations in Colombia is not only as a result of the armed conflict and its consequences. It is also linked to large scale extractive projects in our territories as well as the policies of the Colombian and Venezuelan states, which put the existence of the Wayuu nation at risk. This is the reason why we are denouncing these projects and the violations of our fundamental rights to prior consultation in this fora.

In the case of Colombia the High Commissioner on Human Rights in its 7th January 2013 report on the situation of human rights in Colombia stated that.

"Colombia is a middle-income country with high indices of inequality. Mineral exploitation is used as an engine for development, but there are significant problems with regard to respect for the right to informed prior consultation. More needs to be done to achieve the progressive realization of economic, social and cultural rights."

Today in La Guajira Colombia most of our lands and sacred territories are in the hands of extractive industry multinationals.

The Cerrejon project is a concrete example of this having 66 thousand hectares of ancestral lands under its control.

Another example is the Brazilian company CCX which has a concession of 67 thousand hectares for exploration and exploitation of coal.

Also Pacific Rubiales, Chevron, Repsol and Ecopetrol have concessions for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons.

Indigenous peoples were not consulted by the government or the responsible entities in the negotiation of these concessions. On the contrary the government insists on the creation of new norms which are opposed to this right as upheld under the Constitution, ILO Convention 169 and the orders of the Constitutional Court in its rulings T 025 of 2004 and Autos 004 and 005 of 2009 and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In light of the above we request that the United Nations system

Mineria = Miseria (Mining = misery)


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