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On March 1, International Day of Waste Pickers

1 March 2023

March 1, a day established to remember a tragedy that occurred in Colombia: in 1992, ten recyclers were murdered in a university.

The staff of the Universidad Libre de Barranquilla deceived the recyclers and invited them to access the offices to supply them with recycling material. Once inside, they were killed with sticks and shots to investigate bodies and traffic in organs. A survivor in the area denounced the tragic situation. In fact, the man, after the attack, led them to believe that he was dead and then fled to notify the police.

The basic recycler collects, selects, recovers, transforms, markets and reuses solid waste. Their income is generated as the recovered material is sold. To do this, he walks the streets in search of material that the community expels or collects materials in dumps in various cities.

Waste pickers have existed in Colombia for more than 60 years. In the end, they are a consequence of emigration. The serious situation of violence in rural areas makes people move to the cities. But in urban areas, faced with a shortage of work, many humble inhabitants, mostly women, choose to find a dignified alternative to living among garbage and waste.

From this critical and adverse situation, many recyclers began to organize themselves, thus constituting the first cooperatives in the country. Since then, it has been a movement that has spread throughout Colombia and with which Mundukide has been collaborating for four years.

The objective of the National Association of Recyclers of Bogotá is that the group of recyclers, mostly women, goes from being the one with a low social level to being the most important. And on that path they will have the help of Mundukide.

Josu Urrutia Beristain- Director of Mundukide

Opinion article published in GOIENA

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