Paulina Cruz Ruiz, from the Rabinal, Baja Verapaz region of Guatemala, was an ancestral Maya Achí (Indigenous) authority and a human rights defender.
She was actively involved in community organizing and resistance, including legal measures against mining projects on Indigenous territory, projects that would severely affect and damage the socio-environmental fabric.
“The extractive industry model promoted by the Guatemalan government and the construction of large-scale development projects on indigenous lands without community consent has been a source of ongoing disputes with resistance movements.” - Minority Rights Group International
Paulina was also part of the March for Dignity, Life and Justice, in which on 1 May 2019 thousands of Guatemalans started a march of eight days against corruption and impunity in the prosecution and assassinations of human rights, peasant and Indigenous leaders and land defenders.
Paulina was murdered on 14 September 2019 near her home in the village of Xococ.
According to the Minority Rights Group International, “one of the major ongoing issues affecting Mayan communities is the increasing activity of the mining industry.”