Chicas Poderosas Indigenous: Wayuu Chapter

“Stories of Water” – Chicas Poderosas Riohacha, Guajira

In February 2014 the municipality of Uribia, in the Colombian Guajira, the northernmost department of the country, declared itself in public calamity. The main reason for this statement was the shortage of water and food that sufferers of the Media and Alta Guajira, who are mostly part of the Wayuu community, the largest indigenous people in Colombia. Since then, national and international media have made the humanitarian crisis part of its news agenda, generally reporting inaccurate figures and biased information on an issue that affects the community in the region, but also touches on political issues, border with Venezuela, environmental, cultural and economic.

In order to find new ways to cover the crisis, Chicas Poderosas Colombia teamed with the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for New Ibero-American Journalism, designed an activity in which a team of 17 women journalists convened to participate in a workshop in Riohacha, Colombia, consisting of six Wayuu women, three Venezuelans, four Colombians, one Brazilian, one Spanish resident in the United States, one Mexican and one Cuban. In addition, we had the participation of Sandra Barrón, ambassador of Chicas Poderosas in Mexico, who fulfilled the role of programmer and designer of the multimedia special that present the story that was worked during the workshop.

The group, made up of journalism professionals with a specialty in video, radio and print media, worked for five days with the mentoring of four teachers: Ginna Morelo, director of the Data Unit of El Tiempo; Wilder Guerra, Wayuu anthropologist and manager of the Banco de la República in Riohacha; Marta del Vado, reporter of the Cadena Ser of Spain; And Miguel Fernández Flores, associate producer of Vice on HBO.

Days prior to the workshop we conducted awareness activities through mail exchanges with bibliographic material and a web chat on a Facebook Live that was transmitted from the FNPI account. The talk was led by Wilder Guerra, who reinforced the training during the first day, in a two-hour talk on anthropological issues related to Guajira geography and Wayuu culture.

The first day of the activity Marta del Vado and Miguel Fernández gave a training on issues of coverage with indigenous communities and ethical issues, as well as talking about the first editorial guidelines and use of tool for field work. We also had a workshop on reporting tools with Ginna Morelo, who has experience in the region and who shared several ideas about sources and official material to support the work that the girls would perform during the following days.

The second and third day were strenuous days in which the group was divided in five teams that worked each one in a different approach: water shortage, nutrition, border, fishing and traditions Wayuu. From six in the morning until late at night, the journalists toured La Guajira to get to the stories and talk with their protagonists. At the end of the night of both days small editorial committees were formed that were giving form to the contents.

Finally, during the fourth and fifth days, editing workshops were organized and we teamed the structure of the special through talks with our programmer, teacher and workshop references, and the content captured during the reporting days.

The final balance was a group willing to explore outside their comfort zone, immerse themselves in previously unknown languages, team up with people who work in other formats and other time, discover new ways to narrate a subject as delicate as is shortage and in the way to make friends with whom to count in the future. All this had a pre-established purpose: to impact new audiences that are more attracted by the images, and the intersectionality between video, photography, audio and texts, to achieve a more reach story about the Guajira community. But now we also know that there was a more special purpose: this story is ours because new members of the region joined the community of Chicas Poderosas. Wayuu journalists who from their territories continue to do the job of counting in the best possible way and with the tools they have in their hands everything that happens in their land.

Know the result of this great work in:

A special thanks to the FNPI for all the support, sharing their years of experience to make this workshop something unforgettable and leave us working with Daniel Marquínez, who led the communications team and César Ortíz, in charge of the logistics of the workshop. Impeccable management and wonderful company.


This workshop was made possible thanks to the financial support of CAF and Oxfam Colombia.

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