Walter Manfredo Méndez Barrios. Photo courtesy of Defensores de la Naturaleza (Mongabay website)
The violent death of an environmental activist and community leader in northern Guatemala two days ago has sparked consternation and concern among communities and organizations working in the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
Sandra Cuffe writes in Mongabay
Walter Manfredo Méndez Barrios was shot on the morning of March 16 while on his way to his plot of land inside Sierra del Lacandón National Park, one of the core zone areas of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. He died as a result of his gunshot wounds while being transported to a hospital in San Benito, the central town in the northern area of the Peten department.
- Walter Manfredo Méndez Barrios led a farming cooperative involved in sustainable timber harvest and actively opposed hydroelectric dams in the department of Peten. Reports filed by him contributed to the arrest of wildlife poachers and land usurpers.
- The 36-year-old father of six had been receiving threats since last year, according to media reports.
- His murder on March 16 was just the latest in a string of killings of outspoken community and cooperative leaders, as well as park rangers, during the 26 years since the Maya Biosphere Reserve was created.
Life continues dangerous for those in the front line against the violence of resource extraction. You can read the full article here.