By David Leonardo Carranza, Dejusticia, EL ESPECTADOR,
August 23, 2022
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
The boys and girls are still dying of hunger in La Guajira, in spite of the fact that the Constitutional Court issued a decision five years ago to stop that very tragedy. In addition, the “Unconstitutional State of Affairs” is far from getting better. The infant mortality associated with malnutrition in the department (34 cases for every thousand children) is now seven times worse than the national average (4.6 for every thousand children), according to the citizen oversight established in the Court’s decision.
EL ESPECTADOR, along with Dejusticia, traveled to La Guajira to determine the situation of some of the rights protected by the Court: water, food, and health service.
“Insufficient and ineffective,” is how the Court characterized the progress in compliance with Decision T-302 of 2017, which declared an Unconstitutional State of Affairs because of the malnutrition of the Wayúu boys and girls.
Five years have passed since the Court ordered more than 20 local and national agencies to take a series of steps to halt the tragedy of deaths by starvation in La Guajira. As part of the follow-up ordered in the decision, Dejusticia, together with EL ESPECTADOR, traveled to the Department to analyze how the people are experiencing the protective measures ordered by the Court: water, food, health services, and participation.
What we found reflects what the statistics say: the Unconstitutional State of Affairs is far from being overcome. Infant mortality caused by malnutrition in La Guajira (34 cases for every thousand children) is now seven times greater than the national average (4.6 for every thousand children), according to the citizen oversight required by the decision.
In the documentary “Hunger in La Guajira: Five Years of a Promise Unkept”, we tell several stories that reflect that reality. A group of doctors were traveling around the groups of huts in Riohacha with frustration, trying to save lives. It’s a community that’s tired of the ephemeral solutions for water, and one young man quit his job of handing out school lunches, because he couldn’t stand to be complicit with the precarious bits of food that the government was offering.
In spite of the little progress that the Court’s decision has been able accomplish in making a transformation, this continues to be the main tool that the Wayúu people have to defend their rights. This is how the leader Matilde López sums it up: “The Court decision has served to make this visible, and to force the government to place the children in the center of concern. That never happened before.”
Justice José Fernando Reyes, who leads the Court’s oversight, agrees with that, and this year the Court decided to create a special Branch with a team dedicated exclusively to this case. “The Constitutional Court is the last hope for people that have no voice. We hope we don’t disappoint them, or at least not disappoint them very much,” he said at the close of a technical session on August 2.