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Story Publication logo May 19, 2022

Colombia: Company Divides Indigenous Peoples and Compromises Part of the Amazon for 100 Years (Spanish)



This story excerpt was translated from Spanish. To read the original story in full, visit Mongabay Latam. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

Image by Routes of Conflict.

Opaque Carbon: Waldrattung and the Bonds of Discord is a collaborative project led by Rutas del Conflicto, in partnership with Mongabay Latam, The League Against Silence and the Latin American Center for Investigative Reporting (CLIP), and supported by the Rainforest Journalism Fund of the Pulitzer Center. CLIP provided additional reporting and editorial support thanks to the support of the Pulitzer Center's Rainforest Investigations Network.

Indigenous leaders and inhabitants of the department of Vaupés tell that, in mid-2019, employees of the company Waldrattung S.A.S., which presents itself as a German multinational dedicated to projects for the sale of carbon credits, gathered dozens of captains from several communities of the Great Resguardo of that department — the second largest resguardo in the country — in the coliseum of Mitú. In Colombia, resguardos are collective territorial entities belonging to Indigenous communities.

There they began to discuss the terms of a possible contract to implement a carbon market project, which would allow them to receive income in exchange for preserving the Amazon rainforest in their Indigenous territory.

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But not all the inhabitants of the resguardo, whom the project would have to involve to see the light of day, were there. Indigenous leaders — who are not necessarily the legal representatives or authorities of the resguardos — told this journalistic alliance that the only thing they heard was what they could hear from outside the coliseum. They insist that they have not seen the contract signed that day by the capitanes — as the leaders of each community are known — with the company, whose representative is the Colombian lawyer Helmuth Gallego. They feel that there is no clarity about the scope of the project.

Indigenous communities on the Vaupés River. Image by Juan Carlos Contreras. Colombia, 2022.

The Tubay Hill in Mitú is inhabited by 17 Indigenous associations that make up the Great Resguardo of Vaupés. Image by Juan Carlos Contreras. Colombia, 2022.
Listen here: How do carbon credits work? Podcast by Rutas del Conflicto.

Illustration by Rutas del Conflicto.
Listen here to the full interview with Helmuth Gallego. Podcast by Rutas del Conflicto.

The Cmari community travels the rivers of the Gran Resguardo of Vaupés. Image by Juan Carlos Contreras. Colombia, 2022.

The Nukak community lives in extreme poverty in Guaviare. Image by Juan Carlos Contreras. Colombia, 2022.

The forest of Puerta del Orion, in Guaviare, is part of the Nukak community's reserve. Image by Juan Carlos Contreras. Colombia, 2022.

Puerta del Orion is located in San José del Guaviare. Image by Juan Carlos Contreras. Colombia, 2022.

The Ceim community bathes in the river. Image by Juan Carlos Contreras. Colombia, 2022.