The railway line linking a major Colombian coal mine to the rest of the country is blocked by indigenous people angry about the lack of local teachers in their schools, reported newspaper El Heraldo Tuesday.
The protest, which began 1PM Tuesday, is blocking the Cuatro Vias section of the line in the northernmost department of La Guajira, as well as connecting roads leading to El Cerrijon mine.
According to Reinaldo Ipuana, a community leader, the local government is failing to contract teachers who can speak their language — Wayunaiki — and understand their culture.
“We are aware of the problems we are causing but the mayor must respect our right to decide who will teach our children and we have not been consulted,” said Ipuana.
The protesters are demanding that teachers from a specific organization, Ayatirilauluayu, be hired, as they have specific knowledge of the Wayuu people.
As a result of the protest the train which carries coal from the Cerrejon open mine has been paralyzed. Only ambulances, hearses and vehicles carrying students will be allowed to pass.
The protesters say the transport block will continue until Euripides Pulido Rodriguez, the mayor of departmental capital Maicao, sits down with them to discuss teacher hiring.