Indigenous body to sue US TV channel

Colombia’s Uribia Department for Indigenous Affairs will sue U.S. TV channel Telemundo NBC over claims that the Wayuu community practices female genital mutilation.

On April 1, 2010, the station broadcast an episode of “Caso Cerrado,” which sets up mock court cases, and allegedly represented as fact claims that indigenous Wayuu communities engages in female circumcision.

This claim is strongly denied by Wayuu groups.

Jose Reinaldo Velasquez, secretary of indigenous affairs for the Uribia municipality in Colombia’s northern La Guajira department, confirmed that he had made contact with a lawyer from Miami, Florida to bring the libel suit before U.S. courts.

The secretary also confirmed reports that a “putchipuu,” a Wayuu tribal judge, initially tried to negotiate an settlement with the broadcaster, which failed.

“Telemundo are already looking for a way to correct their mistake, but we will persist with our claim, with which we are seeking to re-establish the good name of the Wayuu people, which was dragged in the mud in front of the world in this documentary,” Velasquez said.

He revealed that, should the claim be successful, any money received in compensation would be donated to a charitable organization for womens’ rights.

The Wayuu is an indigenous ethnic group living in the Guajira Peninsula in northern Colombia and north-west Venezuela.

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