French NGO leader killed in indigenous region of Guatemala


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A Frenchman supporting agricultural projects in favor of indigenous communities was killed on Monday in an armed attack in northeast Guatemala. The reasons for the crime are currently unknown.

Benoît Maria, a French director of the NGO Agronomes and Veterinarians Without Borders (AVSF) in Guatemala, was killed on Monday August 10 during an armed attack in the northeast of the country.

“We denounce the murder of human rights defender Benoît Maria”, wrote on its Twitter account the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders of Guatemala (Udefegua), calling for an investigation by the public prosecutor.

According to several local media, Benoît Maria was driving a van on a road near the indigenous village of San Antonio Ilotenango, some 85 km northwest of the capital Guatemala, when he was shot dead. The motive for this attack was not immediately known.

According to Jorge Santos, coordinator of Udefegua, Benoît Maria was at the head of AVSF and had lived for more than twenty years in Guatemala, where he notably provided support for agricultural projects in favor of the indigenous Mayan communities of Ixil. He also participated in the creation in 2011 of the University of Ixil, in the department of Quiché, dedicated to the ancestral knowledge of indigenous peoples.

The French embassy in Guatemala said it was “in contact with the Guatemalan authorities so that this crime is elucidated and justice done quickly”.

With AFP

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