On 11 July 2012, human rights defender Mr Enrique Linares was shot dead in Zacapa province in Guatemala. Enrique Linares was a leader of the Rio Chiquito community and an active member of the Asociación Comité de Desarrollo Campesino - CODECA (the Association of Committees for Small Farmers' Development). CODECA works on improving the situation of the rural poor in Guatemala, focusing on issues such as the wage conditions for campesinos, land reform and nationalisation of electric energy in the country.
On 11 July 2012, at approximately 12:00pm, Enrique Linares was ambushed by persons in an unidentified vehicle at the crossroads of Usumatlan and la Palmilla in the Usumatlan Municipality, Zacapa province. The human rights defender was shot eight times and died as a result.
Enrique Linares had been leading the protests against the high prices charged for electricity by the company Distribuidora de Electricidad de Oriente, S.A. – DEORSA (Distributor of Electricity in the East). Most recently on 29 June 2012, he led a strike in his community calling for the nationalisation of electric energy.
On 19 January 2012, Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal concerning the killing of Mr Vidal Nahaman Cabrera Tuch, a member of the youth branch of CODECA, who was shot and killed one month after receiving death threats.
Front Line Defenders believes that the killing of human rights defender Enrique Linares is directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights, and is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of other human rights defenders working with CODECA and involved in campesino and land rights in Guatemala. Front Line Defenders believes that this killing is indicative of the high levels of violence and intimidation currently facing human rights defenders dealing with alleged human rights violations committed by private companies and other powerful actors in Guatemalan society.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Guatemala to:
- Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Enrique Linares, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsable to justice in accordance with international standards;
- Take measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the family of Enrique Linares, and that of all members of CODECA;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Guatemala are able to carry out their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.