Again there were protests against the government in Central America’s most populous country. There were also clashes between protesters and the police.
Guatemala City (dpa) – A week after Guatemala’s parliament building burned down, there were again protests against the government with clashes between protesters and police officers. Thousands took to the streets peacefully in the capital and other cities on Saturday.
They called for the resignation of Conservative President Alejandro Giammattei and other politicians they accuse of corruption. Many of them pointed to signs that a right-wing MP had labeled poor Guatemalans as “bean eaters.”
Local reporters said some people in the crowd in central Guatemala City threw stones and bottles at police officers, who in turn used tear gas. Several were injured, including police officers and journalists. A bus was set on fire.
During protests on both days of the previous weekend, there were already injuries and arrests. On Saturday, protesters set fire to parts of the convention building. The reason was that the MPs had adopted a state budget for the coming year through an opaque express procedure. This has resulted in cutbacks in human rights programs and the fight against malnutrition and an increase in the salaries of parliamentarians. Giammattei accused the protesters of trying to force a coup.
The protests came again, although parliament withdrew the budget on Monday. The anger over the budget had also fueled existing resentment against the country’s political elite, some of which came from before Giammattei entered his tenure in January. Five years ago, then-President Otto Pérez Molina resigned for a corruption investigation and was arrested shortly afterwards.