Several thousand people demonstrated peacefully in front of the government headquarters in the Guatemalan capital on Saturday, but radicals arrived in front of parliament, breaking through one of the legislature’s doors.
Others threw incendiary bottles into parliament windows, others spray-painted “thieves” on the wall. The deputies were not in the building at that time.
The incident lasted about 10 minutes before the police intervened and dispersed the crowd with tear gas. Firefighters subsequently put out the fire, the AFP agency reported.
Vice President in dispute with the head of state
President Alejandro Giammattei condemned the attack on parliament and promised to punish the perpetrators. He wrote on social networks that “people have the right to demonstrate under the law,” but that “public or private property cannot be allowed to be destroyed.” According to the AP, he also said that he was negotiating with various groups about possible changes to the adopted budget.
The demonstration took place the day after Guatemalan Vice President Guillermo Castillo suggested to the president that both resign “for the good of the country.” Castillo said he did not agree with many steps taken by the government.
Castillo’s disputes with the president, who, like the vice president, have been in office since January this year, became public as early as May, when they concerned measures against the spread of coronavirus. Because of them, she criticized the president and the opposition and the public, according to which the government did not sufficiently support groups affected by quarantine restrictions.
Guatemalan’s budget for next year, which was approved by deputies on Wednesday, was also criticized by the local ombudsman Jordan Rodas. He also advised the president to resign with the vice president.
Guatemala, which has a population of about 17 million, is facing a covid-19 epidemic, but now also the consequences of two strong hurricanes that hit Central America this month.
The first, Hurricane Eta, claimed dozens of lives in Guatemala alone. The floods destroyed a number of homes and damaged the local infrastructure.