MEPs urgently pushed through next year’s budget. The budget has been widely criticized by entrepreneurs at the church. During protests across Guatemala, protesters express their anger.
Guatemala City (AP) – For the second day in a row, many people in Guatemala have taken to the streets against the controversial budget for the coming year.
Hundreds of demonstrators protested outside Congress in central Guatemala City against the urgent budget for 2021 and the government of President Alejandro Giammattei. Unlike the day before, it was initially peaceful.
On Saturday, protesters torched parts of the congress building. On the sidelines of the largely peaceful protest, demonstrators threw stones at police and officials threw tear gas at crowds. At least 14 people were injured in the clashes and treated in a hospital. According to the Interior Ministry, 37 people were arrested during the riots. There have also been demonstrations and riots in other towns such as Quetzaltenango, Totonicapán, Cobán and San Marcos.
“There is a right to demonstrate – it must be absolutely guaranteed. But there is no right to vandalism, ”he said in a statement from the Organization of American States. President Giammattei has invited all political forces in the country to talks. The group of 13 donors for Guatemala, including Germany, called for dialogue.
Human rights ombudsman Jordán Rodas has accused security forces of restricting freedom of assembly. Police beat protesters and used guns, she said in a letter to the Constitutional Court. Rodas called for the removal of Interior Minister Gendri Reyes and Police Chief José Antonio Tzubán.
Protesters called on Head of State Giammattei to veto the controversial budget. The budget for the coming year was last approved by MEPs in a fast-track procedure without public debate. The project has encountered rejection from many social groups, from entrepreneurs to social movements and from the education sector to the Catholic Church. The high level of new borrowing, cuts in the social and educational sector and the lack of transparency have been criticized.
Critics accused Congress of deliberately passing the budget so quickly, while the people of the Central American country struggled with the aftermath of the devastating tropical storms “Eta” and “Iota” and the corona pandemic.