Jakeline Romero Epiayu
"Defenders of the Earth" found that nearly four people were murdered every week in 2016 protecting their land and the natural world from industries like mining, logging and agribusiness. Murder is just one of a range of tactics used to silence land and environmental defenders, including death threats, arrests, sexual assault and aggressive legal attacks.
Jakeline Romero from Colombia has faced years of threats and intimidation for speaking out against the devastating impacts of El Cerrejón, Latin America’s largest open-pit mine.
En el Día mundial de los pueblos indígenas, hablamos con Jakeline Romero, líder del pueblo wayúu de Colombia que vive amenazada por su activismo contra los abusos de paramilitares y empresas mineras
Jakeline Romero Epiayu is a Wayúu woman human rights defender in the department of Guajira, in the northeast of Colombia. Jakeline is part of the organization Sütsuin Jieyuu Wayúu (Force of Wayuu Women), created in 2006 with the aim of visibilising and denouncing violations of the rights of the Wayúu indigenous people, which are a result of the mining megaprojects, forced displacement, the situation of vulnerability of the victims of the armed conflict and the presence of armed groups and the militarization of the Guajira territory.
The department of La Guajira comprises the territory of the Wayúu people, the most numerous indigenous people in Colombia, and is also a region of strategical value for its many natural resources, includying coal, gas and other minerals, as well as its geopolitical location, in the border with Venezuela. The presence of megaprojects, paramilitaries and guerrilla force and drug trafficking routes, added to the neglect by the Government and growing corruption in the country has severely affected the indigenous people's. Sütsuin Jieyuu Wayuu raises complaints about systematic violations of human rights in the territory and the disproportionate effects of mining, violence and the armed conflict over indigenous women. Jakeline and other memebers of Sütsuin Jieyuu Wayuu have been subjected to stigmatization, persecution and threats.