Hundreds of Guatemalans burned the headquarters of Congress last night in a protest in which they called for the resignation of the country’s president, Alejandro Giammattei, after the legislative approval of the budget for 2021.
“We consider reducing operating expenses, focusing those resources to attend to the country’s priorities. In addition, to reduce the fiscal deficit and as a result, less debt “, Giammatei had declared on his Twitter account.
The protesters, mostly hooded, they broke the entrance door to Parliament and also the windows, throwing fire torches inside, without the presence of the deputies inside the facilities. The flames in the Legislative Palace could be seen from the street and the Red Cross treated several people for intoxication, Andrés Lemus, a spokesman for the organization, told reporters.
“I reiterate that you have the right to demonstrate according to the law. But neither we can allow it to vandalize with public or private property. Whoever is proven his participation in these criminal acts will fall the full weight of the law, “he warned President Giammatei on his social networks.
Several offices were burned by The protesters were previously evicted by security forces and fire brigades by launching tear gas, forcing them to disperse and evacuating the street. The National Civil Police captured more than twenty people and almost fifty were hospitalized for injuries, one of them in serious condition.
In parallel, while hundreds of protesters took over Congress, thousands of other Guatemalans were peacefully demonstrating against Giammattei just one kilometer away in front of the National Palace of Culture (seat of the Government).
Carrying the country’s blue and white flags and banners with slogans such as “No more corruption,” “Giammattei out,” and “They messed with the wrong generation,” the protesters filled the central square in front of the former government palace in the capital.
Request for resignation
The Vice President of Guatemala, Guillermo Castillo, asked President Alejandro Giammattei to resign together. “For the good of the country, I have asked you to present your resignation together”Castillo said in a message to the nation through social networks and sent to journalists in the WhatsApp group of the vice presidency.
Congress, mostly made up of the ruling party and related parties, this week approved a budget of almost 12.8 billion dollars, 25% more bulky than this year.
Most of the funds are directed to infrastructures with the private sector and do not foresee increases in health or education items, nor in those destined to combat poverty and child malnutrition.
59.3% of the population of almost 17 million inhabitants of Guatemala lives in poverty and child malnutrition affects almost 50% of children under five years of age. In addition, several economic entities and analysts warn that it is a risk that a third of the budget is financed by debt.
Likewise, Congress had approved loans for more than 3.8 billion dollars to attend the pandemic, although only less than 15% of those resources were granted.