Colombia's Wayuu people endured the worst
terror committed against them since 2000, when paramilitaries belonging
to the AUC's Northern Bloc, commanded by the now extradited 'Jorge 40'
came to instill terror. Ever since, the Wayuu have permanently been
submitted to all kinds of forced displacement.
Colombia's Wayuu people endured the worst terror
committed against them since 2000, when paramilitaries belonging to the
AUC's Northern Bloc, commanded by the now extradited 'Jorge 40' came to
instill terror. Ever since, the Wayuu have permanently been submitted
to all kinds of forced displacement.
Different forms of
forced displacement by any of the armed forces, both legal and illegal,
have confronted us, the people of Wayuu; an indigenous people of
warriors, living in quite a barren and in some parts completely
Wayuu traditionally are forced to move
because of climatic conditions. Especially when times of drought force
the people to move their animals to areas where they can get water
stored in wells.
It is exactly this so-called "nomadism" that
the Colombian government uses to justify the neglect of its
responsibility to act when it comes to taking care of the displaced
population, which in our country the Government is obliged to by law.
The Wayuu displacement never stopped, not even during the so-called
ceasefire when the current government negotiated the demobilization of
the paramilitaries in Santa Fe de Ralito.
It was in this
period that the most murders, threats and forced disappearances were
committed against the Wayuu, resulting in more displacement, this time
to an area that is divided by the border between Colombia and
There's knowledge about the massive displacement
that took place mostly in 2003 and 2004, but little to nothing is known
about the Wayuu communities that, after having been confronted by the
murder of family members, felt obliged to completely move or to move
oreover, little to none is known about the damage
done by the displacement, the murders and the dishonor committed on
their territory, and how an ancient culture bit by bit is threatened
Forced displacement of the Wayuu, and why not
say so of the indigenous people of this country, like paramilitarism in
Colombia, never ceased to exist. On the contrary, the dynamics of this
epidemic -- in Guajira in particular -- show how it rears its head not
just on Wayuu territory, but in Colombia as a whole, and what calls the
most attention of the media, institutions and international agencies:
the cross-border displacement.
It's worth mentioning that the
situation for the Wayuu in neighbor country Venezuela also isn't easy.
We, the Wayuu, are a binational people. Better said, our ancestral
land, over 15,00 square kilometers, is divided by the border of the two
countries. Colombia and Venezuela have agreements that, for example,
the Wayuu have dual nationality. However, in the case of forced
displacement because of Colombia's internal conflict, the inconvenience
of attending the emergencies in Venezuela are demonstrated when a
Wayuu, carrying a Venezuelan passport, as a citizen is unable to seek
refuge or asylum in his own country. This, like many other incidents,
mostly related to abuse committed by the Venezuelan National Guard or
because of its ignorance of the Wayuu's situation, are clear violations
of human rights.
Since 2008, the Sutsuin Jiyeyu Wayuu (Wayuu
Women Force) has received information of displacement within Wayuu
territory forced by illegal armed groups who arrived to operate from
the peripheral area of the border town Maicao, again threatening,
harassing, forcefully disappearing and murdering members of the
communities of La Majayura and Carraipía.
displacements occurred simultaneously with the appearance of several
pamphlets of the paramilitary Gaitanista Self Defense Force, announcing
social cleansing in different neighborhoods of the border town.
Legislation in Colombia until recently said that internally displaced
people only have a year to explain they were forced to leave their
lands or territories, disregarding the internally displaced that were
forced to leave their homes years before the 2004 law. With new rulings
by the high courts of this country, canceling this time limit, it now
has become necessary to prepare an immediate diagnosis that is able to
estimate the dramatic tragedy that the people of Wayuu have been facing
and continuously face.
January 27 2009
Author Karmen Ramírez Boscán is member of the Wayuu Women Force and publishes on several Wayuu websites.