Felix Vasquez, an environmental and human rights defender, died on Saturday after the attack in central Honduras.
Masked men armed with rifles and machetes killed a Honduran environmental activist in front of his family, police said on Monday, the latest in a series of such attacks in the Central American country.
Felix Vasquez, an environmental and human rights defender, died Saturday evening after the attack on the village of El Ocotal, in central Honduras.
A law enforcement spokesperson told Reuters news agency the murder was under investigation.
“The police authorities immediately decided to open a corresponding investigation … we hope to have a response soon,” Police chief Kevin Hernandez told reporters.
The violent murder has been widely condemned. Former President Manuel Zelaya, deposed following a 2009 military coup, tweeted “We condemn the assassination of Felix Vasquez, indigenous leader, defender of rivers and forests”.
– Manuel Zelaya R. (@manuelzr) December 27, 2020
Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for activists, with 14 land and environmental defenders killed last year, up from four in 2018, according to data made available by the global advocacy group. Witness.
Vasquez, a member of the indigenous Lenca community who lives in the mountainous region near the border with El Salvador, intended to run for Congress as a member of the opposition LIBRE party in the 2021 elections.
He had filed complaints with national authorities from 2017 on alleged political persecution due to his environmental activist work, according to the Coalition Against Impunity (CCI according to its Spanish acronym), an NGO.
“The state is directly responsible for his murder because of his omissions in the face of the serious risks of which he was duly aware,” said the ICC.
The Honduran government did not immediately respond to Reuter’s request for comment.
Vasquez’s murder comes four years after the assassination of indigenous activist Lenca Berta Caceres, a veteran land rights defender who fought a battle against a large dam on ancestral land before being shot dead in her home.