WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
8 Jul 2024 | News

We Condemn the Vile Attack Committed Against the Shipia Wayuu Association and Demand Justice

On July 2, 2024 Wayuu leader Javier Rojas Uriana of the Association of Shipia Wayuu suffered a vicious attack on his life when an explosive was thrown at him. We condemn this attack and demand that the Colombian authorities guarantee the protection of Mr. Rojas Uriana, his family, and the Association of Shipia Wayuu members in the Department of la Guajira. The National Protection Unit is required to reinforce the protection measures for Mr. Rojas Uriana and his family. The National Prosecutor’s Office, the Ombudsman’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office are requested to act within their mandates to ensure that this security incident and the previous attacks suffered by Mr. Rojas Uriana are investigated. They should guarantee that these crimes’ intellectual and material authors are brought to justice. Additionally, these entities should investigate why the regional prosecutor’s office of Cesar and the SIJIN have refused to accept the complaint the victim tried to file.

The work of the Association of Shipia Wayuu has been fundamental in making visible and seeking answers to the crisis faced by the Indigenous Wayuu in the Department of la Guajira. State neglect, poverty, climate change, and corruption have created a catastrophic human scenario for this population suffering from hunger and thirst. The under-five mortality rate was 21 per 1,000 births in 2021. Approximately thirty percent of the population has no access to water.

The brave advocacy by the Association of Shipia Wayuu Association led the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to grant precautionary measures for the Wayuu people. Mr. Rojas Uriana is suffering reprisals due to his bold efforts to stop the extermination of the Wayuu people. He has been the target of assassination attempts, death threats, slander, and trumped-up legal charges. The IACHR measures focus on children, adolescents, nursing mothers, and the elderly. On multiple occasions, the IACHR has urged the Colombian state to act. After 20 Wayuu children died in 2022, the government of President Gustavo Petro admitted that the Colombian State had failed these children. According to the National Health Institute (INS), between January and September 2023, 55 children died of malnutrition in la Guajira, with 93 percent of them being indigenous. Although the national government ruled for a week in Guajira and has tried to remedy the situation, the suffering persists. The international community must make this crisis visible and help to find rapid solutions to this grave situation. It should start with guaranteeing that the Wayuu indigenous leadership can do their work without fear of losing their lives and that Colombia complies with the orders of the IACHR.

Calle Luna Producciones

Colombia Acuerdo de paz

Fundación Ficamazonía

La Nueva Prensa

Washington Office on Latin America