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News > Colombia

Petro Decrees Economic and Social Emergency in La Guajira

  • President Gustavo Petro in Riohacha, Colombia, June 29, 2023.

    President Gustavo Petro in Riohacha, Colombia, June 29, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/ @infopresidencia

Published 30 June 2023

"We are going to change the priorities for water usage. The first priority will be providing water for human consumption," the Colombian president said.

On Thursday, the Colombian President Gustavo Petro decreed a state of economic and social emergency in La Guajira, a department located in the northern part of the country that has been devastated by drought.


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"It is absolutely necessary to declare the economic and social emergency because a public calamity is looming. All climate models are warning us about an impending drought that has never been seen before in La Guajira, which will worsen the effects of the El Niño," Petro said.

"We are going to change the priorities for water usage in La Guajira. The first priority will be providing drinking water for human consumption," he said, referring to the water scarcity in the region, which could lead to the death of children and the elderly.

To implement these changes, a "Water Institute" will be created in La Guajira. Its mission will be to ensure that "water is not treated as a commodity."

The Colombian government and its security forces will provide a fleet of water tankers to supply the region, rehabilitate partially constructed wells, and construct a pipeline to bring water to La Guajira.

To make all these initiatives viable, Petro asked the Constitutional Court to approve the economic emergency in a department with the highest poverty rates in the country and the highest number of child deaths due to malnutrition. However, ordinarily, these types of decrees should be previously approved by Congress.

Since Monday, Petro has relocated his cabinet to La Guajira, a department predominantly inhabited by Indigenous communities living in very precarious conditions. From there, he has announced policies related to energy transition, water resource management, and education.

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