Enel Green Power’s Colombia branch can resume construction of its 205-MW Windpeshi wind farm project in the department of La Guajira after resolving conflicts with protesters from local indigenous communities.
In a press release issued last week, the Colombian ministry of mining and energy said it had brokered an agreement between the renewables company and representatives of the Wayuu communities, ending their clashes over the Windpeshi development that had been going on since 2021.
"What we in the national government are seeking is that energy transition projects also contribute to improving the quality of life of the inhabitants and indigenous communities in their area of influence,” minister of mining and energy Irene Velez Torres was quoted as saying.
As a result of the agreement, the Wayuu communities will cease protests, allowing works on the Windpeshi project to continue. The ministry said it would support a monitoring committee that was set up between Enel Green Power Colombia and the communities in order to guarantee permanent dialogue.
In early January this year, some members of the Wayuu nation blocked access to their ancestral land located in the township of Wimpeshi to protest poorly-conducted public consultation on the part of Enel Green Power, Colombian news outlet El Tiempo reported at the time.
Jose Silva, a representative of the human rights advocacy group Nacion Wayuu, claimed that the company only engaged with people in one sector of the territory, those in favour of the project. The other sector was not consulted even though the groups belong to the same family, El Tiempo reported Silva as saying.
Conflicts over who was consulted and who was supposed to be consulted plagued other wind projects that had to pass over the Wayuu territory in La Guajira. The lack of thorough engagement ended up sowing discord among families and different clans, according to a review of the situation by El Espectador.
La Guajira, a department in the northeast part of Colombia, is buffeted by strong winds that made it a popular destination for wind farm developers who sought and secured projects in the country’s power auctions. Among those projects is Windpeshi.
La Guajira is also expected to play an important role in the next stage of Colombia’s energy transition -- the green hydrogen era.
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