On 17 June, José Silva, president of Nación Wayuu, an NGO defending the human rights of the Wayuu people in La Guajira, found a floral wreath at the entrance to his home with a threatening note saying, “Your funeral is approaching.”
Nación Wayuu has been working in co-operation with various indigenous communities in the area, making public complaints and offering legal advice on violations of human and collective rights. London Mining Network member group Coal Action Network has been working with this organisation over the past year or so on matters connected with the impact of Cerrejon Coal’s operations on communities close to Puerto Bolivar and the railway line taking coal from the mine to the port. We all suspect that the threats which José has received are related to his criticisms of the impacts of the company. Cerrejon is owned by London-listed Anglo American, BHP and Glencore.
In April, due to the COVID-19 crisis, Nación Wayuu organized the crowdfunder ‘COVID 19 Solidarity with indigenous communities in Colombia’, in co-operation with three organizations, Devuélvannos el agua, devuélvannos la vida (Spain) , Latin America Solidarity Centre (Ireland) and Coal Action Network (United Kingdom). Thanks to many generous donations from people around the world, Nación Wayuu reached some of the neediest communities with food parcels. However, this initiative attracted attempts to taint the organization’s reputation with allegations of corruption which we believe, having looked into the matter, are false.
Faced with the constant situation of threats, attacks and harassment, José Silva has made a formal complaint to the authorities.