Posted on February 17, 2017 1:24 pm
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Categories: Human Rights

Because Peace Requires Protecting the Lives of ALL Colombians: On Hunger by the Wayúu in La Guajira (S)

Veteran journalist and investigator Gonzalo Guillén writes President Juan Manuel Santos a letter about the increasing dangers Wayúu children face in the La Guajira. The letter was published in Semana. English translation: Colombia Peace Report. 

Mr. President Santos: I am respectfully writing to you this open letter to implore you to immediately declare a state of emergency in the department of La Guajira, located in the extreme north of Colombia, as a means to stop without delay the world’s largest genocide by famine, of which the Wayúu nation is being a victim.

There is a macabre debate about whether the Wayúu children who’ve starved to death over the past few years are five thousand or seven thousand. I remember that, in an attempt to reassure the country, you ventured to say that it’s nothing more than exaggerations, and the number is not even 300. Nothing is gained by minimizing this hair-raising disaster. However, let’s suppose that the genocide was only in the amount that you said and for one moment and try to visualize the dimensions of this horror — the bodies of those 300 children under the age of five placed at the same time in Plaza de Bolívar, so they can be seen by the Colombia’s powers thatbe, who have turned their backs to this process of extermination of a group of Colombians, subjected to the ravages of absolute corruption, injustice and oblivion.

Without debating the figures, I want to tell you that since December 2015, when the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), issued precautionary measures for the dying Wayúu children, indigenous leader Javier Rojas Uriana and I have counted 110 cases of Wayúu children starving, only in the area of La Guajira inhabited by the poor communities of that ethnic group and members of the Shipia Wayúu Association. There are no records of those babies killed from the same causes in the rest of the vast region of La Guajira,

Each of the documented deaths, on the other hand, has been reported in detail and documented to the IACHR. Dr. Carolina Sáchica. She has warned the international high court about dozens of children who would die unless they received assistance from the Colombian State. They died as animals. The director of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare even went as far as to declare — as if it were a government plan — that the Wayúu children would continue to die and, that is certainly what is still happening.

[…] The unstoppable death of Wayúu babies and pregnant and lactating women is proof enough to say that entities such as the Ministry of Health and the ICBF have completely failed La Guajira and at an inexcusable cost: genocide.

I regret to inform you, Mr. President, that the state entities that inform you about La Guajira, have lied and deceived you. Do you know that the wells that some time ago you “inaugurated” were in fact made by the dictatorship of Rojas Pinilla, almost 60 years ago? Or have you been told that in Riohacha water flowed for most of the day only when you went to inaugurate the aqueduct?

The state of emergency — which only you can declare —  to stop the process of extermination of an indigenous people does not seek constitute a military regime, as has been said, nor to overthrow the current corrupt departmental governor, a step away from losing the position for which he was fraudulently elected three months ago. The seven immediate predecessors are either in jail or on the way there convicted of theft, murderer and drug traffickers. But the latter are matters for ordinary justice.

Despite donations of more than US$ 2,000 million received by La Guajira in less than 30 years, most of the indigenous people live in absolutely inhuman conditions: lacking water, food, health services, transportation, education, justice and democracy, if we take into consideration that democracy has been kidnapped by gigantic and powerful criminal gangs.

I am convinced that you would be the first one astonished to know with certainty that the world’s greatest extermination by hunger is occurring now, ironically, in the only country on the planet governed by a Nobel Prize winner. Semana