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Guatemala lawyer who defended rural and Indigenous people killed in attack

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GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — A Guatemalan lawyer who worked closely with organizations representing farmworkers and Indigenous groups was killed in an apparent ambush, human rights organizations said Thursday.

José Domingo was with two members of the United Farmworkers Committee when they were shot by a group of men Wednesday south of the capital, said Daniel Pascual, a leader of that organization.

Guatemalan authorities had not commented on the attack. The other two men were wounded, one seriously, Pascual said.

Domingo was helping to legalize a land title in the area, Pascual said. Land ownership issues are often contentious in rural Guatemala where Indigenous peoples and farmworkers struggle to obtain title to the land they live on and frequently face illegal evictions.

“It was an ambush, the crime was planned and premeditated,” Pascual said. “Common criminals don’t act that way.”

Domingo had defended the farmworker organization in a number of cases, as well as other Indigenous groups.

“We can’t separate this attack from politics, because the two men who were with him are members of the (committee),” Pascual said. He said Domingo helped their members defend against efforts to kick them off their land and helped them get clean titles to their property.

The United Nations Human Rights Office called for a prompt and impartial investigation.

The Council of the Wuxhtaj Peoples also condemned the attack and said Domingo was of the Popti or Jakalteko people and a “defender of Mother Earth.” ___

Follow AP’s coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean at https://apnews.com/hub/latin-america

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