GUATEMALA: The shit is hitting the fan.

Human Interest

A group of people who participated, this Saturday, November 21, in a demonstration on the premises of the Guatemalan Congress broke some windows of the building and set fire without the police stationed in the place intervening.

The protest was held to demand the resignation of the President of the Republic, Alejandro Giammattei , who is accused of mishandling the crisis due to the pandemic, and against the approval of the largest budget in the history of the country with almost 13 billion dollars.

Social groups criticize that the budget is not directed to fight poverty and malnutrition that affects almost half of the child population under five years of age. 59.3% of the population of almost 17 million inhabitants of the Central American nation lives in poverty.

The protesters, most of them hooded, arrived at the central building of the Congress of the Republic and broke windows and doors and then threw fire torches inside. They also entered the building and damaged part of the furniture.

The portal of La Hora , one of the main media in the country, reported that the Legislative Directorate office and one of the main rooms of the place were the most damaged by the fire.

Protesters burn down the headquarters of the Guatemalan Congress;  They ask for the resignation of President Giammattei

The seizure of the Congress headquarters lasted about 10 minutes, which was when the National Civil Anti-riot Police arrived, firing tear gas to disperse the protesters. Meanwhile, firefighters put out the fire in the Legislative Palace.

The deputies were not at the legislative headquarters and so far the authorities have not given details on whether there were any injuries from the fire.

The Judicial Branch did report that 22 people were apprehended after the demonstrations.

This Saturday’s protest comes a day after the country’s vice president, Guillermo Castillo , asked President Giammattei to resign together for “the good of the country,” after the 2021 budget, the largest in the country, was approved in Congress. history, which generates indebtedness and rejection among Guatemalans.

Protesters burn down the headquarters of the Guatemalan Congress;  They ask for the resignation of President Giammattei

“For the good of the country, I have asked him to present his resignation together,” Castillo said in a message to the nation on social media and sent to journalists in the vice-presidential WhatsApp group.

He also assured that he told the president that “things are not good” and admitted that he does not have a good relationship with the president.

Since the beginning of his mandate, which began last January, Castillo and Giammattei have had differences, which came to light on May 29 when the vice president revealed in the press a conversation in which he demanded to make wrong decisions in the face of the pandemic due to the Covid-19.

The handling of the crisis by Giammattei, a 64-year-old doctor, has been harshly criticized by the political opposition and social sectors who denounce deficiencies in hospitals and deficiencies in attending to groups affected by the confinements.

Criticism increased after Congress, mostly made up of the ruling party and related parties, approved loans for more than 3.8 billion dollars to deal with the pandemic, although only less than 15% of those resources have been invested.

According to figures from the Ministry of Health of Guatemala, the new coronavirus has caused 4 thousand 74 deaths and adds 118 thousand 417 infections.

If the two rulers resign, Congress would have to swear in the chancellor of the Republic as the new president.

(With information from La Hora, La Prensa Gráfica and AFP)

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