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Guatemalan Congress rejects president’s decree against fires

Guatemala. The Congress of Guatemala dealt a setback to the government of President Bernardo Arévalo by rejecting this Thursday a government decree of a state of public calamity that the president sent on Wednesday to deal with the forest fires, which raised alarms due to the poor quality of the air in three departments of the country.

With 83 votes out of 160, the opposition deputies led by the VAMOS bench, led by former president Alejandro Giammattei, rejected the decree that, before being published and coming into force, had to be endorsed by the legislature.

The objective of the decree was to mobilize resources from an emergency fund of about 14 million dollars for the purchase of supplies, without further controls, to fight the fires.

The government stated that there are more than 40 forest fires throughout the country, most of which were caused, so complaints were also filed for the prosecutor’s office to investigate these events.

Since Monday, the Ministry of Education suspended classes in public and private institutions in the departments of Guatemala, Escuintla and Sacatepéquez, those affected by the fires.

Arévalo had announced that only the institutions involved in fighting the fires could purchase supplies and that a report would be submitted to make the expense transparent. The decree issued also gave the possibility of requesting international help to combat the fires.

However, opposition representative Evelyn Morataya declared in the legislative plenary session that her vote was against because it was “a blank check” for the government to spend. “This government has been in office for almost 100 days and has left the same people executing the resources. Who are they going to give the money and this blank check to? To the same ones who have poorly executed resources before,” she said.

For his part, legislator Édgar Reyes Lee, from the opposition VAMOS party, said that this government did not prepare for this situation. “This government is headless,” he said, adding that he did not support the decree. Lee is a representative for the department of Petén, where there are several active forest fires.

Allied legislator Christian Álvarez, who supported the approval of the decree, said that it was “a vote of confidence in the president” to combat the fires, as it was a tool that could help resolve the situation. However, he indicated that there was also a need for coordination between institutions and making public spending transparent.

The presidency of Guatemala, in a text message to the media, said that “the fires continue, so, from the Government of the Republic, we will continue searching for ways to address this situation that affects the Guatemalan population. ”.

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– 2024-04-19 13:10:31

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