Wednesday, 25 November, 2020

Protesters torch Guatemala’s Congress building amid unrest

Guatemalan congress set on fire amidst protests Guatemala: Congress on fire after protesters storm building
Deanna Wagner | 22 November, 2020, 16:30

A demonstration against the approval of the 2021 budget in Guatemala ended up Saturday with a fire at the congressional building in the Guatemalan capital.

Parts of the Congress building can also be seen to be covered in graffiti.

Some protesters approached the headquarters of the Legislative Palace, where they threw objects with fire into the offices of the Congress building. There were also reports of security personnel firing tear gas at protesters.

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

President Alejandro Giammattei condemned the acts of violence.

"I reiterate that you have the right to demonstrate in accordance with the law".

President Alejandro Giammattei pledged "the full force of the law" against people who vandalize public property. As protests ramped up Saturday, he said on Twitter he was meeting with various sectors to analyze modifications to the budget.

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Guatemalans were angered because lawmakers approved $65,000 to pay for meals for themselves, but cut funding for coronavirus patients and human rights agencies.

But Mr Giammattei has not responded publicly to that proposal and Mr Castillo has not shared the President's reaction to his proposal.

Protestors say the budget was passed in secret while the Central American country battled the Covid-19 pandemic and the crippling aftermath of back-to-back hurricanes.

The Roman Catholic Church leadership in Guatemala also called on Giammattei to veto the budget Friday.

He said the budget appeared to favor ministries that have historically been hotspots of corruption.

Both the former president and Ms Baldetti are in jail awaiting trials in various corruption cases.