To divert the Bruno Arroyo is like cutting the veins of Wounmainkat our great mother earth.
- Expression of an indigenous Wayuu woman-
Women and men of the Wayuu People, organized within the social movement the Strength of Wayuu Women, publically denounce before national and international opinion the intentions of the Cerrejon multinational company: THE PROJECT TO DIVERT THE BRUNO ARROYO*, ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL TRIBUTARIES OF THE RANCHERIA RIVER AND THE ONLY RIVER THAT WE HAVE IN THE LA GUAJIRA DEPARTMENT.
Today before a dark reality, coming from the voices of Wayuu women responsible for fundamental balance of all Wayuu people, the Outsu, the spiritual knowledge holders, who, through their dreams and spirits have expressed their great concerns of an entire peoples every day. Based on a suffering caused by the ongoing abuse by the Cerrejon multinational company which is considered to be one of the worst historical tragedies and the impacts of open pit mining, which is interpreted as a constant violation of Wounmainkat, our mother earth; we bring this message:
This project is part of Cerrejon’s and its shareholders’ (it is co-owned in equal parts by BHP Billiton (Australia), Anglo American (South Africa) and Glencore (Switzerland)) perverse strategy who only seek to generate profits for their own pockets and maintain control over our territory and its natural goods under the protection of the consumer countries and their economic power. This power only translates into money and has been the cause of the worst tragedies for the indigenous Wayuu, having had serious sociocultural implications including the breakdown of the social fabric of an entire people that historically have remained in their ancestral territory.
Currently, the transnational corporation Cerrejon intends to drastically alter our territory and resources again by diverting the Bruno Arroyo, one of the main tributaries of the Rancheria River. The severity of such actions is very important not only due to the seriousness of droughts in our territory, but also due to the pollution and destruction caused by altering aquifers that has occurred because of mining activities. The diversion of Bruno Arroyo is part of the project to expand the mine in 2015: “(...) Cerrejon will continue its expansion project P40, which aims to increase production from 32 to 40 million tons per year starting in 2015. To accomplish this growth will require an investment of U$1,300 million (...).” This process is part of the New Mining Areas (NAM) expansion project, which proposes to extend the mining operations in the Oreganal, Tabaco and La Puente pits. We should remember that in 2011 the Cerrejon Company presented a questionable project that aimed to exploit coal that could not be accessed without diverting the Rancheria River in the territory of the La Guajira Department as there is a large coal seam underneath the river. This project would have meant the exploitation of an open pit coal mine in part of the River’s course, requiring a 26-kilometer diversion of the river from its natural cause.
In order to continue with its expansion project, Cerrejon now seeks to divert multiple arroyos, such as the Bruno Arroyo, the el Estados Arroyo and the El Salado Arroyo; what will happen to the Bruno Arroyo is currently subject to local and regional debate. Located between the municipalities of Albania and Maicao in the south of the department, this Arroyo provides water to the Indigenous, African descent and farmer communities in both rural and urban areas of these municipalities Surprisingly, within the compensation plans considered in the Rancheria River diversion project, the Bruno Arroyo would become one of the most important water sources that would help counter the water shortages generated by the monstrous intervention of the Rancheria River. Not content with the intent of 2011, Cerrejon today presents a project whose impact is equally harmful, not just in environmental terms but also in terms of our Wayuu cosmogony, specifically the aspect of the life of Wounmainkat, our mother earth and giver of life. A diversion of this nature, which would imply an alteration of the Arroyo ´s course by 3.7 miles, would be a violation of our fundamental rights and would be an irreversible assault of the most sacred of our relationship with life itself.
We call upon the attention of national institutions and the international community to protest and reject this new violation the rights of those of us who share the territory and natural goods of La Guajira, whether we be Wayuu, of African descent, or belong to farmer communities. We have been suffering the serious impacts of mining for 30 years. We demand a process of a free and informed prior consultation, in accordance with international standards, before any actions are taken concerning the Bruno Arroyo.
We demand respect for our internationally recognized territorial rights, and that the Cerrejon mining company immediately initiate a process of mitigation and repair of all the negative impacts it has generated.
We call upon all civic and popular sectors to manifest their support and join the clamor of the Wayuu People to PROHIBIT the diversion of BRUNO ARROYO.
YES TO LIFE, NO TO THE PROLONGED DEATH OF WOUMAINKAT!