GUATEMALA CITY – Thousands of Guatemalans poured into the streets of this capital on Thursday to demand the resignations of President Jimmy Morales and more than two-thirds of the members of Congress.
The peaceful protest brought together a broad cross-section of Guatemalan society: from college students and their professors to labor activists and indigenous peasants.
One of the contingents who marched to the seat of Congress was led by the chancellor of state-supported San Carlos University, Carlos Alvarado.
Marchers held up a banner demanding on behalf of the nation that Morales and 112 members of the 158-seat Congress “ask for our forgiveness and return what you stole.”
The groups behind the protest also want deeper changes to the political system to ensure that public resources are used to benefit the people.
Proposed reforms include a new way of financing political campaigns, mandating access to the media for all parties and making it possible for voters to hold officeholders accountable, the San Carlos chancellor told EFE.
“That’s what we are asking in order to have a more just and democratic country,” Alvarado said.
In September, the UN-sponsored International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) accused Morales of using illegal contributions to fund his 2015 campaign, but Congress declined to revoke the president’s immunity from prosecution.
Since April 2015, CICIG has worked with Guatemalan prosecutors to take down a dozen conspiracies to embezzle public money.
The most prominent case involved a customs-fraud ring led by then-President Otto Perez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti, who were forced from office and remained behind bars pending trial.