A Frenchman supporting agricultural projects in favor of indigenous peoples was killed on Monday in an armed attack in northeastern Guatemala. The causes of the crime are currently unknown.
Benoît Maria, a French head of non-governmental organizations and veterinarians without borders (AVSF) in Guatemala, was killed on Monday, August 10, during an armed attack in the northeast of the country.
“We condemn the assassination of human rights defender Benoît Maria”, wrote in his Twitter account the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (Udefegua) and demanded an investigation by the prosecutor.
We will take care of the defender’s assistant #DDHH, Benoît María, from org. of agronomists and veterinarians without frontiers in Guatemala, exigimos al @MPguatemala carry out the relevant investigation based on the responsible Instrucción General 5-2018 y den con las personas. pic.twitter.com/CZ9WXagdDy
– UDEFEGUA (@UDEFEGUA) August 10, 2020
According to several local media, Benoît Maria was driving a van on a road near the native village of San Antonio Ilotenango, about 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 the AVSF and had lived for more than twenty years in Guatemala, where he especially supported agricultural projects for the benefit of the indigenous Mayan communities in Ixil. He also participated in the creation in 2011 of the University of Ixil, in the Department of Quiché, dedicated to ancestral knowledge from indigenous peoples.
The French embassy in Guatemala said it was “in contact with the Guatemalan authorities to shed light on this crime and that justice should be done quickly”.