Guatemala — Congress Reverses Budget After Protests

  • Rodríguez made the announcement in a prerecorded message in the company of sixteen other deputies from various blocs allied to the ruling party.
  • The budget was approved by 115 of the 160 legislators under strict security measures, with the closure of several streets around the congress.
  • On Saturday, demonstrators set fire to Congress in protest over the plan.

The President of the Congress of Guatemala, Allan Rodríguez, announced on Monday that the body will reverse the 2021 state budget, whose approval last Wednesday led to massive demonstrations on Saturday, and the burning of a part of the nation’s capitol by a group of irate demonstrators.

Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest to demand the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei, a day after protesters set fire to a part of the congress building.

Rodríguez made the announcement in a prerecorded message in the company of sixteen other deputies from various blocs allied to the ruling party.

“In order to maintain the governability of the country and social peace, we’ve agreed to suspend the process of approving the revenue and spending plans for the 2021 budget,” Rodriguez said on congressional social media on Monday.

The approval of the budget caused unrest in the population that resulted in demonstrations on Saturday to express rejection of the move by the Congress.

The budget was approved by 115 of the 160 legislators under strict security measures, with the closure of several streets around the congress. It has been described as “opaque” by opposition legislators, who stated that they were denied access to the document prior to its passage.

Additionally, the budget presents large reductions for health and human rights issues.

Capitol Burned

The budget had been due to be forwarded to President Alejandro Giammattei for signing. However, on Saturday, demonstrators set fire to Congress in protest over the plan. A part of the Congress building was burned by the angry protestors, and they also destroyed part of the facilities.

On Sunday, opposition deputy Orlando Blanco said he suspects that there were “infiltrators,” probably gang members, in Saturday’s demonstrations against the government. He said that, chances are they are the ones who burned Congress.

The politician also indicated that the congress’ “internal personnel” could also have had a hand in the burning of the Congress.

President Giammattei appeared publicly for the last time on Friday afternoon. Since then, he has only referred to the incidents on Saturday in a message on social networks, in which he indicated that the nation’s citizens have the right to demonstrate according to the law. However, they won’t be allowed to vandalize public or private property, he said. 

Riot police form a cordon as flames shoot out from the Congress building after protesters set a part of the building on fire, in Guatemala City, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. Hundreds of protesters were protesting in various parts of the country Saturday against Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and members of Congress for the approval of the 2021 budget that reduced funds for education, health and the fight for human rights.

The president has at all times endorsed the budget, as well as his bench, the political group Vamos, with a majority in Congress through alliances.

The political crisis became worse for President Giammattei when his vice president, Guillermo Castillo, asked him at a press conference on Friday to resign together with him in order to “oxygenate” the country. The Vice President argued that “the country is not well.”

Meanwhile, this Sunday, hundreds of people met again, as they did on Saturday, in front of the National Palace of Culture to express their rejection of the president.

Besides an economy on its death bed, Guatemala is also being faced with the effects of two major hurricanes that battered Central America during the past month. The storms affected more than 350,000 people in the country.

Only $1/click

Submit Your Ad Here

Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

Leave a Reply