Guatemala- Congress Set Ablaze by Irate Protesters

  • Fire brigades arrived at the scene to put out the fire.
  • The protesters were evicted by tear gas canisters by the National Civil Police,
  • The security forces have arrested 22 people for various reasons over the protests. 

Hundreds of irate protesters on Saturday stormed the Guatemalan Congress and set on fire several offices until they were evicted by security forces and fire brigades who quickly put out the fire. For about 10 minutes, amid the chaos, the protesters managed to set fire to a part of Congress and also destroy everything they found around them.

Guatemalan Vice-President Guillermo Castillo.

The deputies were however not in the chambers located in the center of the Guatemala city at the time of the fracas. So far no data on those injured or the number of deaths has been released.

The protesters were evicted by tear gas canisters by the National Civil Police, forcing them to disperse.

Fire brigades arrived at the scene to put out the fire.

The aid agencies have warned that at least half a dozen people have been treated for injuries , in addition to dozens affected by tear gas without any deaths in the incidents, although the information released by the authorities is still preliminary.

Protests Against Proposed Budget

The seizure of Congress for a few minutes took place in the middle of a demonstration agreed for this Saturday by dozens of entities, with the aim of rejecting the State budget for 2021, promoted by the Parliament, especially by parliamentarians from the ruling party of the Guatemalan President, Alejandro Giammattei.

The budget has been described as “opaque” especially owing to it’s large reductions on health and human rights issues .

The security forces have arrested 22 people for various reasons over the protests. 

The Guatemalan president in reaction to the demonstrations stated that citizens have the right to demonstrate in accordance with the law but warned that his administration can’t allow them to vandalize public or private property.

The citizens wrath against Giammattei and the Congress ensued after the approval of the budget last Wednesday, at dawn, and without the 160 deputies having access to it.

On Friday night, after Giammattei endorsed the budget, his vice president, Guillermo Castillo, in a rather surprising move on Friday announced that he had asked President Alejandro Giammattei to resign along with him “for the good of the country” owing to the passage of the controversial budget that has sparked outrage in the poor Central American state. 

“For the good of the country, I asked him that we present our resignations together,” the vice president announced in a message on social media.

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.

He also revealed that he told the president that “things are not right,” and admitted that there is bad blood between the president and himself.

Giammattei, a 64-year-old medic assumed office in January on the promise of cleaning up corruption and fighting organized crime.

His tenure has however been characterised by controversy over his handling of the coronavirus, notably deficiencies in the country’s hospitals.

In Guatemala, one out of every two children suffers from malnutrition and 59 percent of its 16 million inhabitants live below the poverty line , according to official data.

In addition, according to reports from international organizations, it is also one of the six most corrupt countries on the continent .

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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.

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