Mining Conflicts in La Guajira, Colombia
The conflict over water resources in La Guajira in northeastern Colombia has been an issue in the region for many years. Many stakeholders and actors are involved, but the primary conflict is between those with mining interests and the people in the surrounding community. This report seeks to provide a greater understanding of the conflict in La Guajira through a threestep process: conflict diagnosis, conflict management, and conflict transformation. The conflict is identified as having structural and value-related causes, which has led to distrustful attitudes and violent behavior between the two main groups involved. The context of global enterprise indigenous group conflicts also is a factor, along with governance and corruption issues within Colombia. Water supply, health conditions, and ways of life are the primary issues threatened in this conflict.
While various measures, both coercive and non-coercive, have been taken toward conflict management in that past, the disagreements and struggles have continued in La Guajira. Other possible methods for future management exist; their feasibility and applicability is discussed in greater detail in the report. There is also an opportunity to explore the contextual and structural issues which led to the initial conflict and fueled its continuance. If this approach of conflict transformation were successfully implemented, the conflict could move toward resolution and its future reoccurrence could be prevented as well. While the length of this conflict and the power imbalance between the actors make management and transformation especially difficult, it is nevertheless important to investigate and understand the conflict fully in order to optimize these approaches.
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