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Colombia: Research alerts over abuses against indigenous peoples in La Guajira connected to wind energy companies

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“In Colombia, Indigenous Lands Are Ground Zero for a Wind Energy Boom” – May 3 2021

It all started about four years ago, when SUVs and pickup trucks drove uninvited onto their lands, remembers Olimpia Palmar, a member of the Indigenous Wayúu peoples, who have historically occupied the La Guajira desert in northern Colombia and Venezuela. “We started seeing these arijunas [Wayuúunaiki for non-native peoples] wearing construction helmets and boots and vests, getting out of the cars, checking the desert, and then leaving,” she recalls…Word soon began circulating across the Guajira Peninsula, from the rancherías — the community’s rural settlements — to the few urban centers: The arijunas were offering money to those who would let them plant tall, slim towers on their lands to measure the wind. On La Guajira’s dusty earth, where few things grow, towers began to sprout. By 2019, at least 30 wind-measuring towers had risen on Wayúu land, according to a report by Indepaz, a nonprofit research center…Today, four years after the first towers were built, their purpose has become clear: The Colombian government has designated La Guajira as the country’s promised land for renewable wind energy. On this remote peninsula — the northernmost land in South America, where the winds of the Caribbean sweep unimpeded across the landscape — the government is launching a host of wind-energy projects. Sixteen wind farms have been approved, with two of them already under construction, according to data from the Mines and Energy Ministry…The government says the La Guajira Peninsula could generate 17 percent of Colombia’s electricity by 2031…Although the government hasn’t made public how many wind farms will be built in total, Indepaz’s study found that 57 wind-energy projects proposed by 19 companies are awaiting approval. Most of the companies are local affiliates of multinational companies, like Italy’s Enel Green Power (building 10 wind farms) and Spain’s EDP Renewables [part of EDP Portugal] (building two wind parks). The government says that as many as 2,500 wind turbines on the La Guajira Peninsula could generate 17 percent of Colombia’s electricity by 2031. “La Guajira will become the epicenter of Colombia’s energy transition,” Diego Mesa Puyo, minister for Mines and Energy, said earlier this year...