The night of 16 May 2018, Luis Armando Maldonado Marin was assassinated in Huehuetenango. A leading figure in grassroots activism and farmers’ associations in Guatemala, Luis was the coordinator of the Huehuetenango Highland Coffee Presidium. Luis is the latest in a series of murders targeting leaders of organisations fighting for human rights in Guatemala, with three others assassinated in the two weeks prior to his death.
In a statement highlighting the dangers facing activists for social change in Guatemala, Marco Ferrero, President of Pausa Café, a Turin based cooperative, and with whom Slow Food started the Huehuetenango Presidium, said “Efforts to defend the lands of indigenous communities against the invasion of palm growing on the coast, and the use of resources inland, are met with judicial repression and the murder of community leaders. Luis Maldonado paid with his life to show that unified communities of producers can claim back their rights and take leading roles in a centuries-old story, in which they have so far just been exploited to the benefit of amoral oligarchs.”
A coffee expert, after working in the Quetzaltenango pastoral land office, he dedicated his life to helping Guatemala’s small-scale coffee growers, collaborating with local and international organizations including Oxfam, Pausa Café and Slow Food. He played a central role in the creation of the Slow Food Huehuetenango Highland Coffee Presidium.