‘We are fed up’: Guatemalans continue anti-government protests

Guatemala City, Guatemala – Guatemalans have actually gone back to oppose throughout the nation for the 2nd Saturday straight, as unhappiness with President Alejandro Giammattei and also his federal government proceeds.

More than 2,000 individuals collected in Guatemala City’s main plaza to require the resignation of Giammattei and also legislative reps that had actually accepted the nation’s debatable 2021 budget plan.

“We are demanding that they respect our rights and that all those corrupt politicians in Congress leave,” Maria Fernanda Saldana, a 22-year-old college student, informed Al Jazeera at the demo, where militants shouted for Giammattei to tip down.

“The only thing they have done is rob our money,” Saldana claimed. “We are fed up that they only take the money to benefit them and do not do anything for the people.”

Tensions outraged recently after Congress accepted a $12.8bn budget plan in the center of the evening that elevated gratuities for reps’ dishes while reducing financing for civils rights companies, health care, education and learning, and also the judiciary.

Thousands of individuals objected throughout Guatemala on November 21 and also, in the funding, a march led by college student finished in a few of the demonstrators establishing component of the Congress structure ablaze.

Protesters set part of the Congress building in Guatemala City on fire on November 21 [Luis Echeverria/Reuters]

In the face of such widespread anger, spurred by the budget, as well as the government’s blended feedback to the COVID-19 pandemic and also current cyclones that strike Guatemalan neighborhoods hard, Congress on Wednesday annulled the controversial budget plan.

But the demonstrations, though smaller sized than last weekend break, have actually proceeded.

“They have never passed legislation for the country,” Angela Guzman, a 50-year-old Guatemala City citizen, claimed throughout Saturday’s rally.

“They have only benefitted from high salaries and from [corruption],” she claimed. “We are here to remove the president and his cabinet. They are not working for the people.”

Dialogue introduced

Following the discontent on November 21, the Giammattei management introduced a discussion that consisted of think-tanks and also business area to locate a resolution to the problem regarding the budget plan.

“The president expresses his most absolute openness to an inclusive dialogue that will allow an understanding among all sectors of national life,” the Guatemalan federal government claimed in a declaration, as reported by Reuters News Agency.

But as the discussion started Tuesday, numerous teams consisting of the Central American Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank – referred to as ICEFI, according to its Spanish-language phrase – introduced they were taking out of the procedure.

“There were problems with the objective of what they wanted and what our objectives were,” Jonathan Menkos, ICEFI’s exec supervisor, that was mosting likely to stand for the team in the discussion procedure, informed Al Jazeera.

“The government has the right to talk with who they want,” Menkos claimed.

“But the need to establish the rules of the dialogue. We were told it was a technical discussion, but we found the morning of the dialogue that the others invited were not from think-tanks and that they did not have a technical analysis of the budget.”

He included, “They appeared to be organisations that were backing the government.”

The discussion is continuing, nevertheless, and also the Organization of the American States (OAS) sent out a delegation to Guatemala on Friday to get involved.

The visibility of OAS in the discussion procedure was asked for by the Guatemalan federal government, though Vice President Guillermo Castillo claimed on Twitter that he would certainly not join conferences with the OAS.

On November 20, Castillo claimed he had actually contacted Giammattei to join him in surrendering for the good of the nation.

Criminalisation of militants

Human legal rights teams have actually additionally elevated issues regarding the feedback by Guatemalan cops to last weekend break’s demonstrations, claiming policemans made use of extreme pressure to distribute the groups.

After the Congress structure was ignited, extreme clashes emerged in between trouble cops and also militants, and also greater than 30 demonstrators were apprehended.

Police defeated spectators and also a digital photographer, and also 2 militants each shed their left eyes after being struck by tear-gas cylinders, regional media reported.

Anger versus the federal government has actually been stimulated by a controversial budget plan, along with Guatemala’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and also 2 current ruining cyclones [Luis Echeverria/Reuters]

Judge Mario Godoy purchased the launch of militants in the days adhering to the discontent, pointing out the absence of proof versus them. Some of the militants still deal with costs in connection to the demonstrations, nevertheless.

“The actions of the police were absolutely arbitrary and illegal,” Iduvina Hernandez, organizer of Security in Democracy, a legal rights team in Guatemala City, informed Al Jazeera.

“Their manner in acting resulted in various crimes resulting in the bodily harm of protesters,” she claimed.

The Inter-American Human Rights Commission additionally condemned the authorities’ extreme use pressure and also required an examination. Giammattei has yet to discuss the cops physical violence.

We are below to get rid of the head of state and also his cupboard. They are not benefiting individuals

Angela Guzman, militant

But that has actually not discouraged the militants that were back on the roads this Saturday.

“It was amazing to see the people united for the mission of removing the corrupt officials from Congress,” Saldana claimed. “We are the future of this country. What future do we have if the corrupt [officials] continue there?”