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  HOME | Central America

Protests Erupt against Corruption in Guatemala

GUATEMALA – The capital city of Guatemala and some other departments of the country saw another day of protests by hundreds of people, maintaining the Saturday tradition of protesting against corruption, which in the marchers’ opinion, reigns in the Congress and in government.

Protesters shouted slogans and sang against lawmakers and President Jimmy Morales, but also set up dialogue groups and collected signatures to move from protest to proposal and to demand resignations.

People with whistles, posters and banners gathered in Constitution Square in the capital urging officials to quit and expressed their discontent over the political crisis that has been going on in the country for a month.

The anti-corruption organization Justicia Ya, that emerged out of protests which prompted the fall of the government led by Otto Perez Molina – currently in preventive detention for several cases of corruption – in 2015, distributed papers and markers, and asked the protesters, by groups, to express their ideas and answer questions to consolidate their demands in groups.

The drive was devised to raise awareness among people, who came to the square on Saturday, and to maintain closer links with the staunch regulars, who meet every Saturday, said Justicia Ya activist, Alvaro Montenegro.

That is why he asked people to answer why they asked for the resignation of the lawmakers and the president, to describe the importance of the cancellation of the two main parties in Parliament – National Convergence Front and the opposition National Unity of Hope – and to seek their opinions on the country’s other needs.

In the cards, people called for the disaffiliation of parties, phantom squads at all levels, resignation of the president, electoral law reforms, respect for indigenous authorities and health and security measures in the country, among others.

Some of the reasons for desiring the lawmakers’ and the president’s resignations included betraying its people, working only in their own interests, having links to drug trafficking, and the president supporting only the upper class and the military.

According to activist Montenegro, the methodological team will summarize the profound changes that Guatemala requires and lay the foundations for a Popular, Plurinational and Multisectoral Constituent Assembly.

Protesters collected signatures in Quetzaltenango province also demanding its lawmakers resign, while in Chimaltenango they stormed the houses of some parliamentarians.

Demonstrations against the president and Congress revived in Guatemala after the president attempted to expel the International Commission Against Impunity head in Guatemala (CICIG), Colombian lawyer Ivan Velasquez.

It was followed by the Congress’ decision to reject the withdrawal of Morales’ immunity so that he could be investigated for an alleged crime of illegal electoral financing during 2015, as well as the approval of penal code reforms – withdrawn later – considered adverse by the people.

Besides, this month it came to the knowledge of people that the president received an extraordinary Army bonus since December which increased his salary by 150,000 quetzals ($20,506) to 200,000 quetzals ($27,342).

It prompted Morales to return the bonus and the prosecution filed a second request for a preliminary injunction against the president, which has not yet received the approval of the Supreme Court to then go to Congress, where it must be resolved.


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