By Martín Tapias, CARACOL RADIO, May 19, 2020


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Three years have passed since the Constitutional Court, in Decision T302, ordered a complete intervention to relieve the humanitarian emergency in the Wayuu communities in La Guajira Province. According to calculations by the control entity that is monitoring compliance, this is a situation that affects more than 300,000 families that are facing the pandemic without any water, and with many children at high risk of malnutrition.

On May 8, it was three years since the Constitution Court’s Decision T302 found an unconstitutional state of affairs in La Guajira, because of the problems with access to water and food for the Wayuu people.

This decision established the responsibilities of national and provincial governments to work together to take care of the humanitarian emergency that affects the indigenous community, and take special care for the children in five municipalities of La Guajira, including Uribia, Manaure, Maicao, and Riohacha.

Today the situation is the same or worse, according to Ruth Chaparro, the president of the control entity that is monitoring compliance and implementation of the decision.

The Superior Tribunal in Riohacha extended the deadline until September so that the authorities can comply with the decision; meanwhile the situation in the communities continues to get worse.

According to monitor Chaparro, malnutrition continues to be 33% above the national average, and she reports that already this year 20 children have died from illnesses associated with malnutrition, but she says that many cases have not yet been registered.

The monitor points out that food assistance arrives in a fragmented manner to the areas where it is needed the most.

The other drama is the lack of water. It hasn’t rained since October of last year and the indigenous people have to collect water from natural reservoirs. More than 60 communities in Uribia have sent out an SOS, because they don’t have any water to use to meet the Covid-19 emergency, says Nelson Pushiana, an indigenous authority in Alta Guajira.

An indigenous person has to travel up to three hours to obtain a little bit of water from a well with health conditions that are precarious, says Damián Morales, another indigenous authority in Alta Guajira.

The representative of the oversight group complains that national agencies are indifferent to the humanitarian emergency in La Guajira. She says that up to now there have been no penalties and no disciplinary proceedings for the failure to carry out the Court’s decision.

For her part, the Inspector General’s representative for children’s issues, Adriana Herrera, says that they have been insisting that the Riohacha Tribunal act in an effective manner to guarantee the rights of these populations.

Three years after the issuance of Decision T302, the communities still don’t have water, and they are calling attention to the fact that, at the time the Uribia Mayor’s Office declared a Covid-19 emergency, the Mayor signed four orders for 2,900 million pesos (about USD 760,000) for the construction of pipelines in rural areas, but when the Inspector General’s Office examined them, they suspended the contracts, claiming that more study was needed.

While the Wayuu indigenous people continue to suffer from malnutrition, we know there are contracts like the one signed in Manaure for 2 thousand million pesos (about USD 524,000) to furnish tablets for students in areas where there is no access to the internet.

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