An indigenous group in northern Colombia has laid down its arms in search of peace within the Wayuu Indian community, which is beset by inter-clan rivalries.
The Wayuu Indian community inhabits Colombia’s most northerly Guajira region, which straddles the border with Venezuela.
The Sijona clan, based in the village of Puerto Lopez, voluntarily handed a cache of weapons over to the Colombian National Police, including six shot guns, a sub-machine gun and ten other firearms, as well as 759 rounds of ammunition.
National Police Commander Elber Velasco Garavito said, “The National Police Department developed a close working relationship with this clan […] to make them see that the violent resolution of conflicts through use of weapons is no way to institute a process of dialogue and peace negotiations.
Upper Guajira community leader Edicto Barroso told newspaper El Heraldo he hoped the Sijona’s move would be emulated by the other 20 Wayuu clans in the region, who are often armed and regularly involved in disputes.
According to Barroso, a recent conflict between two clans saw one party demand $348,000 to resolve the dispute and a further $139,000 to do so without bloodshed.
Barroso said, “Not everyone has the ability to find such money and pay for an offense. The fact is, if you do not have guns, there will be no dead.”