Wayuu woman from the Guajira peninsula, north Colombia


Matrix Cultures







The Wayuu ("Guajiros")

Renilda Martinez, a Wayúu woman elder, spoke at the international Earth Summit in Brazil, June 1992: “We, the Wayúu, inhabitants of the peninsula of Guajira, are protectors of an ancient culture with complex social, economic and judicial institutions based on the principles of human solidarity and an alliance with nature. Wayúu society is structured around matrilineal clans in which a woman is assigned a fundamental role that has not yet been annulled by cultural imperialism in spite of internal, Indo-Hispanic mixing and fundamental changes in the economy.” [9]

“Wayúu elders tell us that we are children of Juya (rain) and Mma (Earth) and that the trees, mountains and animals are our relatives. We conceive of the earth as a fountain of sustenance. She is the creator of life...”

Martinez spoke as a representative of the Indian Council of Venezuela (CONIVE) and the Indian Movement for National Identity (MOIIN).

Other women attest to the negative influence of patriarchal Spanish culture, saying that "domestic violence in their communities is caused by bad habits learned from occidental cutures such as drug use and alcholism.” Families traditionally demanded reparations from the family of a son-in-law who harmed their daughter. [Hughes, 8]


[Watch for more information to be posted on the Wayuu in future.]