GUATEMALA CITY – Thousands of Guatemalan peasants demanded on Tuesday the resignation of President Jimmy Morales, calling him “incapable” of governing and insisting upon the investigation of more than 100 lawmakers who allegedly took bribes from Brazil’s Odebrecht construction firm.
Coming from all over the country and outfitted in traditional clothing, the demonstrators, most of them indigenous peasants, marched in front of Congress and on Constitution Square in a peaceful protest, albeit under the watchful eye of the police.
Neftali Lopez, one of the leaders of the Peasant Development Committee (CODECA), which organized the protest, explained why they are calling for the president’s resignation: “We don’t consider him either capable or politically suitable” to govern.”
“We’re calling for the president’s resignation because he’s not good for us, he’s coopted by organized crime and is governing for the country’s wealthy,” Lopez said.
The peasants said that the Morales government does not attend to their demands, which include nationalization of the energy sector to avoid regular price hikes, halting the persecution of leaders defending peasant lands and a halt to granting licenses for hydroelectric dam construction because “they are looting our natural resources.”
Morales on Jan. 14 completed the first year of his four-year term and has already faced several demonstrations against hydroelectric projects and involving agrarian conflicts, among others.
Another CODECA leader, Cirilo Perez, emphasized that the protesters are also demanding that corruption within the executive branch be investigated, since a son and a brother of the president are on trial for allegedly defrauding the state in 2012.
“Let him resign!” was one of the main slogans chanted by the demonstrators, who carried signs reading “We’re fighting for a better country,” “We don’t want more corrupt (officials),” “We don’t want traitors,” “No more hydroelectric dams because they’re devoted to looting our resources” and “We’re the ones on the bottom who are going after the ones on top.”
The demonstrators issued a call to the Cicig commission on international impunity in Guatemala and to the Public Ministry to investigate corruption throughout the government.
The protesters began their demonstration early Tuesday morning, creating traffic chaos and disrupting local business activity.
The powerful Committee of Commercial, Industrial and Financial Associations demanded that the peasants respect the right to mobilization and not disrupt productivity and development.