Guatemala parliament building set on fire during demonstration

At least 14 people in the Guatemalan capital, Guatemala City, were treated for their injuries on Saturday after demonstrations against the government budget turned into clashes with the police. Shortly before, hundreds of protesters had stormed and set fire to the parliament building.

The budget was negotiated in secret

The Guatemalan Red Cross had to treat protesters intoxicated by the smoke. During the storm and arson the building was empty.

Police used tear gas to disperse the rioters. The fire brigade was then able to extinguish the fire. The extent of the damage to the building is not yet known. At least 33 are protesters arrested, according to a list published by the government on Saturday.

The protesters are angry about the budget for next year. Ambitious infrastructure projects in that budget will cause the Central American country’s national debt to rise considerably. However, according to the protesters, hardly any money is going to fight poverty or malnutrition.

The corona crisis and the current lockdown have left hundreds of thousands of people unemployed and the weak economy has come under further pressure.

In other places in the capital, including the central square, the demonstrations were quieter. (Photo: ANP)

The budget was approved, while the inhabitants of the country had yet to recover from tropical storms Eta and Iota. The terms were negotiated in secret. The budget was approved early on Wednesday.

According to protesters, President Alejandro Giammattei took advantage of the situation to quickly push his budget through parliament. They demand his departure.

Vice President Guillermo Castillo asked the president to resign on Friday “for the good of the country”. Castillo says he will resign if Giammattei does the same.

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