La Guajira, Colombia
El Bruno Stream
Wayuu activists are protesting El Cerrajon plans to expand coal mining operations under one of their last remaining sources of water in the region, El Bruno steam.
On October 1, 2015, Wayuu activists marched in protest of El Cerrajon coal mine expansion plans.
El Cerrajon is the largest open-pit coal mine in the world. Many residents of La Guajira claim that mining operations have polluted their air and land, and depleted their scarce supplies of clean water.
El Cerrajon has plans to excavate coal under El Bruno stream. Wayuu leaders say the stream is an essential source of water for local communities.
Activists hold a strategy meeting the night before the protest march.
Protestors map out their route.
Young activists drink Chicha- a warm corn porridge- before heading to the protest march.
Luis Socarras and friends head out to meet other activists, for their protest march along the banks of El Bruno stream.
"This stream is like a vein in our bodies. If they destroy it, they cut off all our circulation, and we can't survive" -Jasmin, Orqueta Wayuu village leader.
A fresh water spring bubbles into the stream.
El Cerrajon published a report claiming that El Bruno stream isn't vital to the local environment, or to human life in the region. Activists denounce those claims.
"Mining execs are wrong; there is life along this stream. We depend on this water." -Daiber, 22 years old.
Wayuu children joined their families in protest of coal mine expansion plans.
Luis Socarras pulls bark from a medicinal Kina tree on the banks of El Bruno stream. Wayuu use Kina tree bark to ease menstrual cramps and improve circulation.
Luis worries about losing Kina trees and other plants Wayuu consider precious, if El Cerrajon continues with current plans to excavate coal beneath the Bruno stream bed.
With community wells running low, some Wayuu communities purchase supplementary water delivered by trucks. Workers here fill water truck tanks directly from the stream near El Cerrajon coal mine. Soldiers posted in the area said the water is delivered without any sanitation treatment.
Many livestock throughout Guajira are dying from thirst or drinking contaminated water.
Nelsi, Keydi and Miguelina were among many Wayuu activists who marched along El Bruno stream, in a call for El Cerrajon to recognize the value of the stream to local communities.
Botadero, a waste disposal site from El Cerrajon mine. Luis says this is toxic waste that contaminates their stream and ground water.
Luis and his wife Monica rest after the long protest march.
Escuela Comunidad el Rocio. A Wayuu community primary school near the end point of the protest march.