Yazmin Romero: “Defending the earth is an act of peace”
“For us mining is misery. They say there is coal there for the world; but they don’t realise this comes at the expense of huge loss of human life.” Yasmin Romero Epiayu. Yasmin Romero Epiayu is an indigenous leader, activist and fierce champion of mother earth and a native of the Wayuu people, a community which has inhabited the ancient lands of northern Colombia – specifically the Guajira region – for more than 2,000 years and currently represents around 50% of its population. She visited the United Kingdom last October with the intention of making known the abuses which the indigenous cultures, native to this part of the country, are suffering as a result of mining projects which have been in operation there since the seventies.
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The mismatch between indigenous communities and mining wealth
Indigenous communities rarely reap the benefits of mining and attempts by companies to redress the balance often fall short. The Wayúu in Colombia provide a case in point. Comprising over two-fifths of the population of north-western state of La Guajira, home to the country’s largest coal mine, they scrape a meagre living as subsistence farmers and herders. Not only has none of the wealth from the Cerrejón mine trickled their way, they have had to suffer the health impacts of air and water pollution to boot, Wayúu leaders say.