The abuse that multinational companies have perpetuated over water resources in Colombia has caused serious damage to people’s health and life. Pollution and diversion of water sources carried out to benefit the economic interests of extractive companies has evidenced that, in the minds of many people, money is worth more than water and life. In the middle of all this, culture has been an invisible victim.
Indigenous, black and peasant communities have traditionally treated water resources as sacred. Rituals and ancestral practices that help maintain the stability and unity of their social fabric have for centuries been performed around them. Not only are companies impacting these communities´ health and well being, they are destroying centuries of invaluable cultural treasure. Our campaign will look to expose this injustice and contribute to the ongoing debate about the impacts multinational companies have on the rights of local communities.
Much has been said about the lack of water in some departments of Colombia. According to the IACHR, the lack of access to drinking water and the state of malnutrition killed 4,770 children between 2007 and 2015 in La Guajira, for example. It is ironic to think that in a region where people suffer from lack of access to drinking water, companies are given the resource to exploit coal for their benefit. While people lack water to drink, multinational companies have enough to throw it to coal and its roads. As if the excessive use and contamination of the resource were not enough, companies have also opted for the diversion of the causes of the rivers, to extract the coal that is under their waters.
This duality, which occurs not only in the department of La Guajira, but throughout the Colombian mining corridor, raises the need to rethink the priority given to the use of water in the region.This campaign seeks to give arguments to boost the change in the way water use is conceived in the country, especially in contexts of extractivism. We recognize the importance of water for the health and basic subsistence of people, however, we want to propose a new approach, of a victim who has been made invisible: culture.
The water, the rivers, the lagoons, the hatcheries and, in general, any source of water have been anciently sacred and important places for the development of cultural activities of the Afro, indigenous and peasant communities that live near them. These spaces become places of union, dialogue and strengthening of the social fabric that are indispensable for community life.
To end these sites is to end the culture and essence of the communities, which is why we say:
Water for the villages! Multinationals: Respect our rights