Guatemalan congress set on fire amidst protests

Cheryl Sanders
November 22, 2020

Guatemalans are protesting the actions of President Alejandro Giammattei whose government approved a new budget of over $13 billion, the largest approved budget in the country's history, presented for 2021.

About 1000 protesters were demonstrating outside the Congress building.

Video on social media showed flames shooting out a window in the legislative building.

For approximately ten minutes, amid the chaos, the protesters managed to set fire to a part of the Congress building and also destroy everything they found around them.

They also want President Alejandro Giammattei to resign.

Anyone who is proven to have participated in the criminal acts will be punished with the full force of the law He wrote that he defended peoples right to protest but neither can we allow people to vandalize public or private property. As protests ramped up Saturday, he said on Twitter he was meeting with various sectors to analyze modifications to the budget.

People in the country were angered because the budget had approved $65,000 to pay for meals for themselves, but slashed funding for human rights agencies and Covid-19 patients.

The new budget reportedly lowered funds for education, health and human rights while approving investments in infrastructure and big businesses supporting the government.

Vice-President Guillermo Castillo earlier expressed his opposition to the budget, and said that both he and Mr Giammattei should step down "for the good of the country".

Waving national flags and signs declaring "Giammattei, resign", demonstrators called for Giammattei to veto the budget, which lawmakers approved at dawn last Wednesday even as Hurricane Iota was drenching parts of the Central American country still reeling from the destruction of a prior storm. Castillo said he would not resign alone.

He said the budget appeared to favour ministries that had historically been hotspots of corruption.

Other reports by iNewsToday