When we are born, we are like a blank canvas, and we are formed from what we are taught from what surrounds us and as we grow old we reflect our environment, as well as the things we learn from our personal experience. I grew up in a conservative family and with a right political trend, and I was always taught to listen to my grandfather and not to contradict him as a way of respect for his knowledge. Among the many things I learned from my grandfather, one of them was to believe that mining in Colombia was one of the best ways to make the economy stronger. As I got older and saw a parallel reality, I think there are other ways to generate work in my country like agricultural small and medium businesses.
The Cerrejón is one of the largest coalmines in the world, is located in northern Colombia in the states of La Guajira, east of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta. The company responsible for the management and mineral extraction consists of three private foreign companies. According to a report from Cerrejón, in 2012 were extracted about 3,000 million dollars of coal, which represents one of the largest taxpayers in the country. When I was little my grandfather worked in this company, and he used to say that mining, especially in this area, was one of the best legal ways to produce work and simultaneously generate revenue for the country, and thus the studies show that. I, like my cousins and brothers, grew up thinking like my grandfather.
It was not until three years that I met a parallel reality from the one that was taught to me. I traveled with my school to meet this wonderful state, La Guajira. A state where you can enjoy a unique landscape in the world, a dominant desert that emerges from the Caribbean Sea; where in addition you can meet a wonderful indigenous culture called Wayuu. From the first day, I noticed the lack of food and water in indigenous populations, called “rancherias.” Hungry children stopped the trucks in which we were crossing the desert in order to beg for a few coins. You cannot imagine these children’s faces when we gave them food, water bottles or candies, which probably they had never seen.
La Guajira has one of the biggest indices of infant mortality by malnutrition in Latin America, due to the lack of water, and therefore food. In one of the “rancherias “where we stayed, the water was transported in buses from borehole built over 100 kilometers from the Rancheria, more than 50 years ago. Right there, they had a cemetery with dozens of graves of children under 5 years old who had died from malnutrition. According to El Tiempo, the most important newspaper in the country, 35 of every 100 children die of malnutrition in La Guajira. These figures are alarming because the children that survive grow up without the basic resources.
At that time I started to ask myself, how is it possible that in one