WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
16 Mar 2017 | Video

“El río que se robaron:” The Human Rights Crisis Faced by Colombia’s Wayúu Indigenous Community

WOLA is Pleased to Invite you to

“El río que se robaron:” The Human Rights Crisis Faced by Colombia’s Wayúu Indigenous Community


Senator Alexander Lopez Maya
Senator of the Republic of Colombia
President of the Legislative Human Rights Commission

Senator Sofia Gaviria
Senator of the Republic of Colombia
Member of the Legislative Human Rights Commission

Gonzalo Guillén
Director, “El Río que se Robaron” (The River They Stole)

Carolina Sáchica Moreno
Director, Legal Office of Jorge Tadeo Lozano University

Javier Rojas Uriana  
Legal Representative, Shipia Wayúu Association

Moderated by:
Gimena Sanchez
Senior Associate for the Andes, WOLA
Friday, March 17, 2017
9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
1666 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20009

This event will be held in Spanish with English translation available.
A livestream of the event will be available at www.wola.org

Join WOLA for a screening of the documentary “El río que se robaron” (The River They Stole) and a panel discussion with members of Colombian civil society on the rights and survival of the Wayúu indigenous people in La Guajira, Colombia. The documentary discusses the plight of the Wayúu, the largest indigenous community in Colombia. Over 7,000 Wayúu have died since the Colombian government drained the Rancheria River, the community’s only source of drinking water. The community lives below the poverty line and struggles to survive in the midst of drought and hunger.

The screening comes in the wake of a landmark 2015 hearing by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), which declared that the Colombian government must take measures to protect the rights of the native Wayúu. The panelists will discuss the humanitarian crisis in the region, the need for greater protection of indigenous communities, and human rights in Colombia’s post-conflict era.

Senator Alexander Lopez Maya was elected to Colombia’s Senate in 2006 after serving several terms in the House of Representatives. Since his election, Senator Lopez has been at the forefront of the defense of labor rights in Colombia and protection of some of the most disadvantaged communities. Mr. Lopez Maya is a member of the Polo Democratico party.

Senator Sofia Gaviria is co-director of the Liber Party of Colombia and member of the Senate’s VII Commission. She came to the Senate in 2014, with a background that largely focused on human rights work with NGOs. During her short tenure in the Senate, she has worked on behalf of the Wayúu communities and their current struggle for survival in Colombia.

Gonzalo Guillén is a Colombian journalist and director of the documentary “El río que se robaron.” This film was used as central evidence in the case by IACHR, which called for precautionary measures to stop the exploitation of the Wayúu people.

Carolina Sáchica Moreno is a human rights attorney and the Director of the Legal Office of Jorge Tadeo Lazano University. She served as a legal representative for the Wayúu community before the IACHR, advocating for Wayúu children and mothers.

Javier Rojas Uriana is an indigenous leader and legal representative for the Shipia Wayúu Association. He also served as a plaintiff before the IACHR in the demand for protective measures for Wayúu children and mothers.

Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli is a leading Colombia expert and Senior Associate at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). Ms. Sánchez is also an expert on internally displaced persons, refugees and human rights, and her work has shed light on the situation of Colombia’s more than five million internally displaced persons—as well as help expose the links between Colombia’s government and drug-funded paramilitaries.