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Guatemala’s Congress Burns Amid Mass Protest

Above photo: Fire at Guatemala’s Congress in the capital as protests are held in the main square. November 21, 2020. Twitter / @Sandra_Cuffe.

The Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office of the Central American nation called on the police forces to avoid repression.

Guatemalans have taken to the streets for a national protest in rejection of President Alejandro Giammattei, and to demand that he veto the controversial general budget for 2021, approved by lawmakers on November 18.

A fire broke out at the Congress in the capital city, though the main protest groups maintain that the people have continued to demonstrate peacefully in the central square which is surrounded by riot police. They warn that infiltrated groups have burned down the Congress, serving as a distraction from the popular calls in rejection of corruption.

Police and riot forces began detaining people in the evening, including Guatemalan lawyer, Ingrid Medina, shown being detained on live video.

On social media, various social organizations and citizens have been calling for people to go to all the squares of the country this Saturday and express their rejection of the Giammattei Government.

The ‘Ya Basta Oficial’ initiative published a series of COVID-19 prevention measures to take during Saturday’s protest.

The Association for Research and Social Studies (ASIES), in a tweet, made clear its “indignation and energetic protest” with the way in which the budget for 2021 was approved, “as well as the levels of indebtedness that are assumed with this and that compromise the future of the country.”

The Human Rights Ombudsman, for its part, called on the police forces to avoid repression and respect free expression of thought.

On Friday, the Vice President of Guatemala, Guillermo Castillo, asked President Giammattei to both present their resignation letter, because “things are not good.” In particular, he did not agree with the way in which the expenditure plan for the coming year was endorsed.

According to what was approved by the deputies, 65 percent of the budget for expenditures for next year will be used for the operation of the Government, 20 percent for investment and 15 percent for the payment of debts.


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