We use it on a daily basis. It flavors our food, works as household cleaning agent, and is sprinkled on the ground in the winter to de-ice roadways and sidewalks. It’s the crystallized mineral salt.
But for one community in Colombia, their life isn’t just influenced by salt, it depends on it. For centuries, salt mining has been a way of life for Colombia’s Wayuu people along the northern Colombian Caribbean coast. This indigenous tribe makes the bulk of their income from the salt plains in La Guajira, and Wayuu children are trained the skills required to mine at a young age.
In recent decades, the Wayuu have engaged in a long battle over the rights to their ancestral territory. Correspondent Toby Muse reported from the desolate Guajira peninsula, where the country’s largest salt deposits are located. He tells us how this dispute over land has made profits for the Wayuu paltry.
Another major obstacle for the Wayuu people is a continuous lack of rainfall in the region that has led to a long-lasting drought. It’s created a food shortage for the already impoverished community. The drought has a big effect on salt miners as they rely on water to retrieve the mineral.