UN Special Rapporteur Arrojo’s visit to Colombia raises water justice issues in Buenaventura and Guajira, the murder of social leaders

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Arrojo sees water as a tool for peace.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation is on an academic visit to Colombia.

The National University of Colombia reports that Arrojo stated:

“In reports this year there was already talk of the need for society to make peace with rivers, that there should be a natural engineering that promotes the governance of water as a common good and not as a commodity, a situation that was seen, for example, with water being traded on Wall Street.”

Arrojo also participated in a panel with the Committee for the Defense and Life of Buenaventura, Wayuu Force and Women, and the Colombian Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development (PCDHDD).

The article highlights: “At the event, sociologist Andreiev Pinzón from the Buenaventura Committee said that it is incredible that the municipality has 9 watersheds, through which around 10,000 m3 flow by the second of this resource, and the community does not have water, which is a consequence of government management focused on water being part of projects for the docks or trains, but not for the population.”

For more please see our article: PBI-Colombia accompanies Nomadesc at meeting with UN representative and rural communities from Buenaventura.

“Indigenous leader Miguel Socarrás from the Wayuu community explained the problem of La Guajira pointing out that each year around 30 million liters of water are used in mining processes that affect the Ranchería River, the main tributary of the region, and specifically the Bruno stream, which causes the community to have a shortage of vital liquid.”

For more please see our article: PBI-Colombia accompanied CCAJAR highlights concerns about Cerrejón mine that exports coal from Colombia to Canada.

And “Aura Rodríguez, representative of the PCDHDD, said that some of the most serious problems associated with water in the country are its use in agribusiness, in products such as sugar cane or flowers, in addition to fracking, sugary drink companies, power and electricity generation, and the murder of social leaders.”

For more on this please see our article: Oscar Sampayo: “We have recorded at least 20 acts of human rights violations against voices that refuse fracking”

PBI and the right to water in Colombia

Last month, Kim-Mai Vu of Peace Brigades International presented at the United Nations in Geneva during the Interactive Dialogue with Arrojo.

She highlighted: “In Colombia, territorial communities have historically suffered persecution and forced displacement: it is the case of Putumayo, Magdalena Medio and Chocó, and of organizations such as Adispa, Justice and Peace Commission, Aguawil, Fedepesan and Credhos, who denounce corruption and contamination of rivers and swamps by companies national and transnational. To date there has been no progress in the investigations of the Prosecutor’s Office.”

In his comments, Arrojo responded: “To the indigenous peoples and social movements, like Peace Brigades International – so dear to me from the past, and so many other movements, let’s prepare the Social Water Forum, let’s prepare the Water conference in New York. This time it is not a question of organizing alternative forums, dear friends, but of developing this historic opportunity for dialogue with the United Nations to its full potential.”

The Social Forum will take place both in Geneva and online on November 3-4 of this year, while the UN 2023 Water Conference will be in New York on March 22-24, 2023.

The full article about Arrojo’s visit to Colombia can be read at “Se puede vivir sin oro o sin carbón, pero no sin agua”: Pedro Arrojo, relator de la ONU. For more, there is also the video of the panel with Arrojo at Derecho Humano al agua: riesgos, resistencias y perspectivas en el contexto de la crisis climática.

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