- Title: In indigenous Colombia, Venezuelan migration sparks conflict
- Date: 12th March 2020
- Summary: HERD OF GOATS WALKING GOATS FIGHTING/PLAYING (SOUNDBITE) (Wayuunaiki), LEADER OF THE IPUANA CLAN (A CLAN IN CONFLICT), RANGEL IPUANA, SAYING: "There are many people who went to Venezuela and stayed there. As it was in Venezuela, it was possible but with the situation now, families are returning to where their grandparents lived and there's been so much conflict, robbery, because they don't know how to control the land, but they controlled it there (Venezuela) and here what they do is to come, to steal and trample and it is not important to them at all." LEADER OF THE IPUANA CLAN, RANGEL IPUANA, SPEAKING TO JOURNALISTS CLOSE-UP OF IPUANA FAMILY OF IPUANA CLAN GATHERED AT HOME ELDERLY WOMAN FROM CLAN GENERAL VIEW OF FAMILY MEMBERS OF CLAN SITTING (SOUNDBITE) (Wayuunaiki), LEADER OF THE IPUANA CLAN (A CLAN IN CONFLICT), RANGEL IPUANA, SAYING: "My children are still coming from Venezuela, but there is more to it and there is more conflict with it because it is not the same, because they have created everything there and live very differently." EXTERIOR OF VENEZUELAN NATIONAL GUARD FACILITIES AT THE BORDER SIGN ON ROOF READING "NATIONAL GUARD VENEZUELA" VARIOUS OF WAYUU FISHERMEN IN BOAT COLOMBIAN POLICE OFFICER WALKING THROUGH DIRT ON BORDER FEET OF COLOMBIAN POLICE OFFICER WALKING COLOMBIAN POLICE OFFICER WATCHING THE SEA (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) WAYUU POLICE INSPECTOR, YOHEDYS PAMAR, SAYING: "Yes, there has been violence. That violence is what brought this conflict between families and that's where the figure of the mediator entered - so that this conflict does not come to blood." GENERAL VIEW OF A WAYUU SHACK WAYUU WOMEN GATHERED AROUND COOKING POT ON THE GROUND CLOSE-UP OF WAYUU WOMEN'S FACE WAYUU WOMAN FANNING THE FLAMES POT OVER FIRE GENERAL VIEW OF WAYUU SCHOOLHOUSE VARIOUS OF WAYUU TEACHER TEACHING STUDENTS VARIOUS OF WAYUU GIRLS WRITING IN NOTEBOOK (SOUNDBITE) (Wayuunaiki) WAYUU LEADER, RAFAEL SAPUANA, SAYING: "The solution for us, the indigenous Wayuu, is to pay, to resolve [conflicts]. Big cases and conflicts we pay with our resources, any resources - cows, goats, mules. Tumas [traditional rocks], jewelry. And negotiating until there is an end to the case." WAYUU SHACK WAYUU MOTHER WITH CHILD, PART OF A FAMILY THAT RETURNED TO COLOMBIA FROM VENEZUELA VARIOUS OF MEMBERS OF FAMILY WAYUU WOMAN, PART OF A FAMILY THAT RETURNED TO COLOMBIA FROM VENEZUELA FAMILY GATHERED TOGETHER (SOUNDBITE) (Wayuunaiki) WAYUU WOMAN WHO RETURNED TO COLOMBIA FROM VENEZUELA, MARIA ELENA IPUANA, SAYING: "We don't want conflict. We hate it because we want to live in peace. It is the neighbors that start fights and conflicts with us and we don't want conflicts. We want to avoid conflicts." MEMBERS OF CLAN IN CONFLICT GATHERED MEMBERS SHAKING HANDS TO MARK RESOLUTION VARIOUS OF TRADITIONAL DANCE CELEBRATED BY BOTH CLANS TO MARK THE END OF THE CONFLICT WAYUU SPECTATORS WATCHING VARIOUS OF DESERT/CACTUS
- Embargoed: 26th March 2020 08:00
- Keywords: La Guajira Venezuela Wayuu humanitarian crisis indigenous migrants shortages
- Location: GUAJIRA, COLOMBIA
- City: GUAJIRA, COLOMBIA
- Country: Colombia
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA003C4QWCAV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: In the sun-baked scrubland of northern Colombia's remote La Guajira province, a bitter quarrel rages between two neighboring Wayuu indigenous families, one of them seeking refuge from a humanitarian crisis across the border in Venezuela.
Their feud was sparked by goats. Without fences to stop them, their herds mingle amid the low bushes between the two homesteads, whipped by a hot and dusty desert wind here in ancestral Wayuu territory.
One family, the Ipuana Montiers - who recently returned from Venezuela, fleeing shortages of food and medicine - say they have lost 50 goats to the herd belonging to their more established neighbors, the Ipuana - who count local leaders among their ranks.
Such conflicts over land, water and animals are increasing as Venezuela spirals into disaster and thousands of former migrants return to Colombia, testing the limits of tribal unity, according to Wayuu police and tribal mediators, known as pÃ¼tchipÃ¼'Ã¼.
For already-struggling communities - which often scrape by on subsistence ranching and gasoline smuggling along the border - the needs of returning Wayuu are hard to meet. Malnourishment has long plagued Wayuu children and many communities can ill afford more mouths to feed.
With dozens of disputes now raging, Wayuu leaders say they hope mediation will head off escalations in violence, as brawls break out between neighbors and within families.
In a dark green house with plastic siding at the end of a long, rutted dirt track, Rangel Ipuana - the patriarch of the Ipuana clan and a pÃ¼tchipÃ¼'Ã¼ in his own right - says he wants to avoid conflict, but many of the returnees from Venezuela have forgotten the Wayuu way of life.
Wayuu people - who generally speak both their own Wayuunaiki tongue and Spanish - have citizenship rights in both Colombia and Venezuela.
Many Wayuu migrated to Venezuela over the past two decades to take advantage of free education and other government benefits, but hyperinflation and a six-year recession under President Nicolas Maduro have driven many back.
Yohedys Palmar, a Wayuu police inspector in Castilletes - which overlooks an aquamarine bay in the eastern reaches of Upper Guajira - said there are about 10 active disputes in his area alone, the majority involving some of the thousands of Wayuu who have returned.
Palmar said he had heard of killings in the inland settlement of Jarara, but Reuters was not able to independently confirm this.
Scant mobile phone service makes communication difficult in the impoverished and isolated region. The Colombian state is virtually non-existent.
Maria Elena Ipuana is the matriarch of the Ipuana-Montiers. She has returned to settle in this spit of family property with her husband Angel Jose Montier and more than 40 of her children and grandchildren, after years of sporadic travel back and forth to Maracaibo, a center of the oil industry in Venezuela.
The family is squeezed into five small makeshift houses. Two of the grandchildren, ages 1 and 4, have frail limbs indicative of malnutrition.
And the family is about to grow - Ipuana's sister, brother-in-law and 22 of their children and grandchildren will arrive soon from Venezuela, she said.
A resolution to the goat disagreement would take at least one problem off the family's long list, Ipuana said.
The following day both families descended on the Sapuanas' homestead to shake on a deal: any further dispute between them and the aggressor would owe the other family 50 goats or sheep. They sealed the deal with shots of burning chirinchi liquor.
A reconciliation is the best-case scenario, but there are no shortage of ongoing disputes.
Uribia municipality, whose population of 205,000 is 95% Wayuu, has had at least 38 cases of land conflicts to date involving people returning from Venezuela, Alberto Henriquez, its secretary of indigenous affairs said.
The count of land disagreements that involved violence is 42.
(Production: Herbert Villarraga, Camilo Cohecha)
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