Editorials: Who do you think you are, Cerrejón? A letter by a Wayuú to the mining company
[Translated by Steve Cagan, CSN Volunteer Translator]
Published Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Enough, Cerrejón, of your noisy, costly and astounding publicity campaigns, in which you have your officers free turtles and birds. Enough, Cerrejón, of projecting yourself as an environmentalist and protector of nature. Enough, Cerrejón, of these speeches in the media in which you pretend to be a green ally. Who do you think you are, Cerrejón? With your machines, you have diverted rivers, destroyed mountains and divided communities. And now you intend to divert Bruno Arroyo. No more!
And it’s not the first time, because no one can take from my mind that you made the Ipaluu and Europa Rivers disappear. And I say this to your face, because I think that it is enough already of so much cynicism.
You have [stolen] our past. As I child, I was filled with emotion every time my grandparents called out that we were going to the farm. It was called La Esperanza [“Hope”—SC] and our hope and that of our cousins was to climb as soon as possible into my grandfather’s 4×4 car and as soon as possible get to the Ipaluu River and stretch out our hands to touch the warm water vibrating with happiness. I remember that we made an obligatory stop to fill the pitchers and tanks we brought with us in order to bathe, drink and cook with during our day there and until dawn. I remember that later we would impatiently take off our clothing and run in our underwear to throw ourselves in and swim while we laughed at the little fish nibbling at our feet…until m y grandmother would call,
“Come, you little squirts, get out of there and let’s go!” On arriving at the farm, they sent us to bathe, because we were filthy from the dust stuck to our bodies because of the river water that we had not dried off. My grandfather pumped the water into some tanks, from which we took out buckets full to bathe in the midst of our games and while we watered the goats that arrived at dusk.
You have stolen this memory from me because now neither of the two rivers exists and that is why I say “Cerrejón, you will not rob another memory from me, nor from my children who now bathe happily in the Bruno Arroyo that you intend to divert.”
Perhaps back in those days you were not aware of how beautiful and important the Ipaluu was for me and for the families that had farms and little settlements between Maicao and the community of La Majayura, who did not want for water, because the Ipaluu nobly delivered it to them. I remember another spot filled with big round rocks with imposing trees, a place where—I remember—with mixed melancholy and sarcasm my mother would say “We have arrived at Europe;” that is what we called that river in which my mother played…now it does not exist and my nostalgic mother is very sorry that now she does not see it run and nourish the earth. This river too you dried up, and no publicity campaign will give it back the flow of its stream, nor much less the happiness my mother had in bathing in it.
Now my family hardly goes to that land. First, because among the paramilitaries, the army, the police and the guerrillas, they have exchanged the smell of cows, pigs, goats and hens for that of gasoline and diesel fuel; they literally displaced us just like you do, Cerrejón, killing the land, cutting its veins of water and displacing communities everywhere. Because among other things, Cerrejón, neither will anybodyever take from my mind that with all these armed people sowing terror to satiate your famine of bills, without scruples they make your bank accounts grow.
Perhaps my writing seems snarky, disrespectful and filled with speculations on my part, but it is simply that no one is going to get out of my head that you are behind all of this. Before I did not know that, but now I do. Now I am aware of how you make rivers disappear, how every day you murder the mountains of the Serranía de Perijá, digging out their internal organs and taking out the coal with which you conduct your business of making money, in exchange for which you fill our heads with fairy tales—about the progress that will never come, about the jobs you are going to give to the people of La Guajira and the Wayuu, about your social responsibility, tales that make rivers like the Ipaluu and the Europa, which I miss so much now, disappear.
That’s why I cry out that I have no desire to remain silent in the face of your intentions to divert the Bruno Arroyo, because with your bland talks about how there is good coal that will increase the royalties, you intend to make it disappear and in passing stab the jugular of the Ranchería River with your knife, that is, kill it and leave us without water—as if the extended droughts and dry periods that affect us were not sufficient.
Stop the lies, Cerrejón, because when there is thirst the first to sense it is the earth, and if the earth is thirsty it cannot feed us. And it is precisely thirst and famine that are afflicting us who live in La Guajira. The government is scandalized because there is malnutrition and drought in La Guajira, but—on its knees—it does not condemn the assassin of our rivers, of our culture, of our people…and all for a handful of dollars that might guarantee their posts in the congress and the office of the president.
I am telling you, and I am warning you, my voice is that of all the people whose homes are in the peninsula of La Guajira: Do not meddle with Bruno, nor with any other
Published by:: Las 2 orillas