The objective of this study was to assess droughts in the department of La Guajira, Columbia, on the basis of their operational characteristics. Droughts were assessed using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) at three- and six-month aggregation periods (SPI-3 and SPI-6), and their operational characteristics were analyzed by the run theory and via analysis of temporal trends using the modified Mann-Kendall (MMK) test. The results indicated that droughts were most frequent in La Guajira between 1995 and 2004. The occurrence of droughts was most accurately identified by SPI-6. It was observed that the central, southern, and western areas of the department had droughts of greater duration, severity, and intensity. The MMK test shows negative (decreasing) temporal trends at significance levels α between 0.1 and 0.01 in 6.12% of the meteorological stations located in the central and southern areas of La Guajira. These results support the conclusion that droughts are recurrent events in the department of La Guajira as a result of the arid and semi-arid climate prevalent in significant portions of the department’s land area. This elucidates the vulnerability of agriculture and livestock in such areas that are prone to droughts of greater duration, severity, and intensity.