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Guatemalan protesters set fire to parliamentary buildings over spending cuts

Guatemala, Antigua — Thousands of protesters went to the streets of Guatemala’s capital on Saturday to ignite the Houses of Parliament, expressing anger at the budget passed this week to cut funding for health care and education.

Demonstrations in Guatemala City, including a peaceful march on the central square, have evacuated thousands of people, destroyed homes and destroyed countries that are still recovering from a series of hurricanes that destroyed critical infrastructure. It shook. Heavy rains brought about by the second storm on Wednesday struck poor towns in the highlands and coastal areas of Guatemala, and passed a budget to cut education and health spending to increase parliamentary meals. ..

The bill also proposed visceral funding to combat malnutrition, reduced funding for the judiciary, caused immediate anger, and triggered demonstrations nationwide.

A group of protesters kicked a window in a parliamentary building, set it on fire, and a flame swirled from the entrance, a social media video showed. According to local news reports, police officers sprayed tear gas on the demonstrators and firefighters immediately extinguished the flames.

On Twitter, Guatemalan president Alejandro Jamatai accused the arson. “We can’t allow public and private property to be destroyed,” he said. Said in a tweetHe added that those who commit “criminal acts” will be “punished with the full power of the law.” The president also said he was considering possible budget changes in a previous news release to appease demonstrators.

However, Mr. Jamatei’s frustration with leadership has reached the highest level of his own cabinet.

On Friday, Vice President Guillermo Castillo said at a news conference that he had “little communication with the president” and offered to resign, but only if Mr. Jamatei resigned. Jamatai has not responded to Castillo’s comments.

Protesters in Antigua, a city about an hour’s drive west of the capital, said they were furious at the long-standing rampant corruption at every stage of the government. Last year, former President Jimmy Morales expelled a UN-backed committee that was actively investigating the hottest transplant cases. The move has been widely criticized as an effort to protect officials charged with abusing public office for personal wealth.

“I’m angry that the country continues to be in debt and things don’t change,” said Maria Vega, a 42-year-old teacher who took her two sons to protest in Antigua. “We have endured a lot over the past few months. The fact that health and education are not prioritized is frustrating.”

In Guatemala City, people put up a sign that represented them, “neither the president nor the parliament,” and asked all lawmakers to resign, social media photos showed. A giant mouse towering over the central square of the capital with the president’s name on it. Religious groups, including leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, have joined the dissonance of voices demanding Mr. Jamatai to veto the budget.

“The lack of clarity that Congress approved the budget is the last straw for me,” said Antonio Durand, an engineer at Antigua. “The corruption that the Guatemalan government has shown has affected people for generations. That’s what we have to stop.”

Nic Wirtz reported from Antigua, Guatemala and Natalie Kitroev in Mexico City.



Guatemalan protesters set fire to parliamentary buildings over spending cuts

Source link Guatemalan protesters set fire to parliamentary buildings over spending cuts

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