La Guajira, Colombia - Solidarity in times of Covid 19.

By Thomas Mc Donagh


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Who are we?

We are an alliance of activists and social/environmental justice organisations based in Ireland and the UK who are supporting mining-affected indigenous communities in Colombia in the face of COVID-19.

Our groups: Colombia Solidarity Campaign, Stop Blood Coal Ireland and TerraJusta are part of the broader network of European and North American activists and NGOs who have done solidarity work in La Guajira for over a decade

COVID-19 Impacts

How do you wash your hands if you don’t have any water? How do you purchase enough food for your family in order to comply with social distancing when you have no income earning possibilities? Wayúu and Afro-descendant communities in La Guajira, Colombia, a region already struggling with malnutrition and water scarcity, are especially vulnerable in the face of COVID-19.

In order to slow the spread of the virus, rural families in Colombia are being ordered to stay at home and do their shopping one day a week. Malnutrition in Wayuu and Afro Colombian communities is an urgent concern, with many unable to afford sufficient food under normal circumstances, let alone a week’s supply. They urgently need your help to protect their families from the economic and health impacts of COVID-19.

Ireland-UK and Colombian Coal

The Cerrejón open pit coal mine in La Guajira is owned by three multinational mining companies trading on the London Stock Exchange - Anglo American, BHP and Glencore. The Cerrejón Coal Marketing Company, CMC, is based in Dublin. The UK has been, and Ireland still is, an importer of coal from Cerrejón for power generation.

Mining, Water and COVID 19.

La Guajira region includes areas of dry tropical forest, an already water-stressed ecosystem. Precarious access to water is made even worse by the lack of basic infrastructure such as water and sanitation and the presence of the coal mine. Mining companies have displaced communities and seized water sources for over thirty years. Thousands of families have to buy potable water, which is already becoming harder to find as people stockpile to prepare for COVID-19. Social support networks that would have aided people in this crisis have also been eroded over the years by the impacts of the mining industry in the area.

Most families in the region live well below the poverty line. Calls to “stay home” during COVID-19 do not account for people who struggle to put food on the table every day. COVID-19 is impacting employment in the region, putting already vulnerable people at risk of serious food shortages.

Your Help

With your help, we can raise money to help provide families with water, personal hygiene products, and food. As mentioned, we are a group of European and North American activists and NGOs who have done solidarity work in La Guajira for many years and we are in touch with our local partners about people’s needs during COVID-19.

We will split the donations raised among local leaders and organizations who are working on the ground to address people’s basic needs.

Food, Water, Hygene Equipment

Our partners will distribute water, food staples, and hygiene products to the highest need families.

€45/£40 will buy food and supplies to last two families for up to one month, enabling them to stay in their communities and not endanger their survival by venturing out to sell their artwork or engage in the other small scale economic activities

If we reach our full €3500/£3000 target, €750/£650 of that will go towards local production of hand-sanitisers. They have become scarce and expensive in the region and your money will help provide materials and logistics for developing the capacity to make them locally.

The Communities

This crowdfunder will help people in at least fourteen of the communities around the mine. Other crowdfunders are being organised to support other communities.

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Team Members

Thomas Mc Donagh

Diana Salazar

Maddy Ryle

Richard Solly