Colombia and Venezuela have begun a program to provide subsidized food to more than 16,000 families settled in Wayuu indigenous communities on the border between the two countries, the Colombian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
The program, which started last weekend, was agreed upon as part of the “Border Plan for Prosperity” operation between representatives of the foreign ministries of the two countries. This much needed assistance is a lifeline for communities that are suffering from a lack of food and water and Venezuela’s recent restriction of movement of food to Colombia.
Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said that between August 30 and Tuesday nearly 7.5 tons of food was distributed to 592 families and 4,736 people living in 17 districts of the Municipality Uribia in Upper Guajira.
This was agreed upon during a meeting last week in Siapana which was attended by over 200 members of the Wayuu community who were an integral part of the agreement. Representatives of indigenous communities expressed appreciation for the joint efforts of the two governments to find a way to supply food to their desperate communities.
Often called Colombia’s richest state for the presence of El Cerrejon, Latin America’s largest coal mining operation, La Guajira also has double the child mortality rate of any other state in the country, and in some cases, triple. Over 50% of the population of La Guajira is indigenous, and lives in roughly 3000 different communities called “rancherias” scattered throughout the state.
In the past six years 3,000 children have died in Colombia’s desolate northern peninsula with starvation causing the death of 276 children. The majority of the children who died as a result of malnutrition were indigenous, a local Wayuu leader told Colombia Reports.