Guatemala: Indigenous peoples’ and land rights defender shot dead in Izabal province

According to media reports, on the morning of Tuesday, 11 April, 46 year old community leader Mateo Tzip Xo, died in hospital from injuries received when he was brutally attacked by several armed men. Mateo was shot in the head, when he and a friend, Hermelindo Chol, were returning home from a fishing trip. Hermelindo was also wounded, but is recovering from his injuries in hospital.

Mateo had campaigned for many years to protect the historic land rights of his people and community in Reserva de Biósfera Sierra de las Minas. Mateo was treasurer of the Comité Comunitario de Desarrollo (Community Development Committee) and it is believed that the attack may have been prompted by his work defending the land rights of the community.

Mateo was also a Guía Principal ( Senior Guide ) in the indigenous community of Maya Q’eqchi’ Nueva Jerusalén, where the killing took place.

The Defensoría Q’eqchi (an NGO set up to defend the rights of the Maya Q’eqchi people) is demanding an investigation into the killing and is calling on the Human Rights Ombudsman to take effective action to protect all the Guías Principales of the Maya Q’eqchi’ people.