Let’s stop the diversion of the Arroyo Stream in La Guajira, Colombia

29 April 2016 - 12:30pm
News

The Cerrejón coal mine, located in the Guajira Region of Colombia is owned by London-listed AngloAmerican, Glencore and BHP Billiton mining companies. The mine is the largest open-cast coal mine in the world, spanning for over 69,000 Hectares and its continued expansion has resulted in the displacement of 15 afro-descendant and indigenous communities.

The remaining communities were able to successfully halt the diversion of the sole large river in the region, the Rancheria River, however they now face a new threat due to the proposed diversion of another of its principle sources of water and life – The Arroyo Stream – which provides water to some 40,000 people.

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Samuel Arrogoces, a community leader of La Guajira, has pleaded with the government of Colombia and the world for support so that the stream is not diverted. 

“Hello my name is Samuel Arregocés, community leader of La Guajira. Today I come to the people of Colombia and around the world to demand that the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos stops the diversion of Arroyo Bruno (Arroyo Stream) because in recent months the British-owned Multinational, Cerrejón, has received all the necessary government permits to divert the stream in order to extract more than 35 million tons of coal located in the streambed. For us the Arroyo Bruno means life and the opportunity of remaining in our territory, living with our families and animals amidst the flora and fauna that surround us. However, today we face the possibility of being robbed of our stream, which provides water to the municipalities of Albania and Maicao as well as four other African-descendant, indigenous and peasant communities. Besides being one of the main tributaries of the sole large river of La Guajira region, which is the Rancheria River. The Arroyo Bruno is our main source of life. Over the past 30 years in La Guajira, we have suffered the painful impacts of El Cerrejón – the biggest opencast coal mine in the world. Our territory has been stripped and one by one our streams have been diverted, dried and contaminated by the mining operations. President Santos asked Colombians to save water due to drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon. I want everyone who reads this petition to know that in La Guajira a person has to live with less than 1 litre of untreated water a day, while the mine uses more than 17 million litres per day just to water the ways where their trucks transit. Today we turn to the world to ask for help so that together, we demand that the president of Colombia stops the diversion of our Arroyo Bruno.” 

 

War on Want has worked with the London Mining Network and other organisations to ensure that the communities of La Guajira have a voice to say that the companies who own the Cerrejon mine must comply with international and domestic laws that protect the territorial and human rights of indigenous, afro-descendant and rural campesino communities.

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