Hundreds of protesters occupy and burn Guatemala’s Congress | International


A man protests in front of the Guatemalan Congress, which was set on fire by some protesters.Esteban Biba / EFE

Hundreds of protesters occupied the Guatemalan Congress on Saturday and set several offices on fire until they were expelled by security forces and firefighters, who put out the fire. The majority of the hooded protesters broke the Parliament’s front door and also the windows, only to throw fire torches inside. The deputies were not at the scene and so far have not been confirmed injured in Congress, located in the center of the Guatemalan capital.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei recalled that there is a right to demonstrate in the country, but said he would not allow public or private goods to be vandalized. “Anyone who wants to have their participation in these criminal acts proven will be under the full weight of the law,” he wrote in a message on Twitter.

For about 10 minutes, in the midst of chaos, protesters managed to set fire to part of Congress and also destroy what they found around them. They were later dispersed with tear gas bombs by the National Civil Police. Firefighters have already arrived at the scene to put out the fire. At the moment, the damage caused is still unknown.

The invasion of Congress took place in the middle of a demonstration agreed for this Saturday by artists, groups and dozens of entities, with the objective of rejecting the State budget for 2021, approved by the Assembly of the Republic, dominated by members of Alejandro Giammattei’s party.

Thus, while hundreds of protesters took over the Congress, thousands of other Guatemalans demonstrated peacefully against Giammattei just a kilometer away in front of the National Palace of Culture (seat of the Government).

The protests against the Executive came after the budget was approved at dawn last Wednesday. On Friday night, after Giammattei endorsed the budget, his vice president, Guillermo Castillo, assured at a news conference that the country is not “doing well” and urged Giammattei to resign together to “oxygenate” the Central American nation.

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