Trócaire condemns murder of French activist in Guatemala
Garry Walsh17 Aug 2020
Benoit Maria worked for more than 20 years to improve the lives of indigenous people in Guatemala. He was murdered on 10th August and an exhaustive investigation into this criminal act is now needed.
Mayan altar at the doors of the Supreme court of Justice at the Rios Montt trial in 2013 in Guatemala. Photo: Elena Hermosa/Trócaire
Trócaire deplores the recent murder of French citizen Benoit Maria, country director of the NGO Agronomists and Veterinarians without Borders (AVSF). Benoit Maria had worked for more than 20 years to improve the lives of small farmers and indigenous people in Guatemala and was highly appreciated by local communities.
Benoít María worked for the organization Agrónomos y Veterinarios Sin Frontera (AVSF) and had been doing work accompanying the indigenous authorities of the region, the creation of the Ixil University and the realisation of small farmer markets. During more than twenty years he contributed to the diversification of small agricultural production, the dignity of small farmers, and the recovery of agricultural practices that are the ancestral rights of the indigenous peoples.
The murder occurred on August 10 in the municipality of San Antonio Ilotenango, department of Quiche, Guatemala. We ask the country authorities the prompt clarification of this criminal act against a human rights activist.
Guatemala is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to defend land and the environment. Human rights defenders are frequently murdered with impunity.
Trócaire joined with members of the Forum of International NGOs in Guatemala to express our condolences to his friends and family, as well as making the following urgent appeals:
To the national authorities, to carry out a prompt and exhaustive investigation for the clarification of the criminal act against a human rights defender and representative of an international development cooperation organization.
To the representation of the Government of the Republic of France and the European Union in Guatemala, to follow up on the investigation with the Ministry.
To the Government of the Republic of Guatemala, to strengthen actions in the area of Defence of Human Rights Defenders, and constructive dialogue for the resolution of social conflicts and implement policies to protect human rights defenders, as well as to safeguard the life of the general public.