'A person with strong values': Friend remembers victim of Wilmot homicide

A 35-year-old man who was killed early Wednesday morning near St. Agatha was a migrant worker from Guatemala, who leaves behind three children and a wife back home, his friend tells CBC News.

Homicide victim leaves 3 children, wife in Guatemala, friend says

Luis Gabriel Cahuec Moran. (Submitted by Byron Cruz)

A 35-year-old man killed early Wednesday morning near St. Agatha, Luis Gabriel Cahuec Moran, was a migrant worker from Guatemala who leaves behind three children and a wife back home, his friend tells CBC News.

Waterloo Regional Police have charged a 33-year-old man with first-degree murder in the case. Police say the two men were known to one another, but did not say where they worked. 

Byron Cruz is part of a British Columbia-based advocacy group for migrant workers. He said he met Moran in 2017.

He was working in B.C. at the time, Cruz said. Cruz was advocating for migrant workers to be included in a minimum wage increase, and encouraged his friend to testify before a government commission on the topic.

"It was impressive," said Cruz. He said Moran testified about leaving his family behind, and how some workers' children no longer recognize them when they return home.

"At that time he said, 'I participated with all my heart: to support my friends, to support the other workers.'"

Cruz said his friend's contract in B.C. was not renewed the next year. So Moran began working in Ontario.

Family in tough financial situation, friend says

In Guatemala, Moran was a volunteer firefighter, and a hero to his children. He was known for his bravery and desire to help others.  

The fire brigade in Guatemala posted a remembrance on Facebook.

Luis Gabriel Cahuec Moran, third from left, was a volunteer fire fighter in Guatemala. (Submitted by Byron Cruz)

Cruz said the man's wife is devastated. She wants justice for her husband, and for his body to be repatriated as soon as possible, Cruz said.

It isn't clear yet whether Moran's family will be entitled to compensation in this situation, Cruz said. He said a fundraiser will soon be set up to support the family, who will face a difficult financial situation.

The local volunteer fire brigade in Guatemala posted condolences on Facebook. (Facebook)

Cruz said it's been a particularly difficult year for migrant workers. Many people are struggling during long weeks living in tight quarters, and don't have easy access to social services and healthcare.

"The mental health health of the farm workers have been really affected during COVID," he said.