clearn.png
Saturday December 5th, 2020 8:20PM

Protesters burn part of Guatemala's Congress building

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Hundreds of protesters broke into Guatemala's Congress and burned part of the building Saturday amid growing demonstrations against President Alejandro Giammattei and the legislature for approving a controversial budget that cut educational and health spending.

The incident came as about 7,000 people were protesting in front of the National Palace in Guatemala City against corruption and the budget, which protesters say was negotiated and passed by legislators in secret while the Central American country was distracted by the fallout of back-to-back hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video on social media showed flames shooting out a window in the legislative building. Police fired tear gas at protestors.

"I feel like the future is being stolen from us. We don’t see any changes, this cannot continue like this,” said Mauricio Ramírez, a 20-year-old university student.

The amount of damage to the building was unclear, but the flames initially appear to have affected legislative offices, rather than the main hall of congress. Protesters also set some bus stations on fire.

Giammattei condemned the fires in his Twitter account Saturday.

“Anyone who is proven to have participated in the criminal acts will be punished with the full force of the law." He wrote that he defended people’s right to protest, “but neither can we allow people to vandalize public or private property.”

The president said he had been meeting with various groups to present changes to the controversial budget.

Discontent had been building over the 2021 budget on social media and clashes erupted during demonstrations on Friday. Guatemalans were angered because lawmakers approved $65,000 to pay for meals for themselves, but cut funding for coronavirus patients and human rights agencies, among other things.

Protesters were also upset by recent moves by the Supreme Court and Attorney General they saw as attempts to undermine the fight against corruption.

Vice President Guillermo Castillo has offered to resign, telling Giammattei that both men should resign their positions “for the good of the country." He also suggested vetoing the approved budget, firing government officials and attempting more outreach to various sectors around the country.

Giammattei had not responded publicly to that proposal and Castillo did not share the president’s reaction to his proposal. Castillo said he would not resign alone.

The spending plan was negotiated in secret and approved by the congress before dawn Wednesday. It also passed while the country was distracted by the fallout of hurricanes Eta and Iota, which brought torrential rains to much of Central America.

The Roman Catholic Church leadership in Guatemala also called on Giammattei to veto the budget Friday.

“It was a devious blow to the people because Guatemala was between natural disasters, there are signs of government corruption, clientelism in the humanitarian aid,” said Jordan Rodas, the country’s human rights prosecutor.

He said the budget appeared to favor ministries that have historically been hotspots of corruption.

In 2015, mass streets protests against corruption led to the resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina, his vice president Roxana Baldetti, and members of his Cabinet. Both the former president and Baldetti are in jail awaiting trials in various corruption cases.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Personal Finance
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Protesters burn part of Guatemala's Congress building
Hundreds of protesters have broken into Guatemala’s Congress and burned part of the building amid growing demonstrations against President Alejandro Giammattei and the legislature for approving a budget that cut educational and health spending
5:03PM ( 20 minutes ago )
COVID-19 deaths of Serbian clerics highlight virus worries
The coronavirus-related deaths of two Serbian Orthodox Church clerics in Europe are highlighting concerns about what religious institutions and the faithful are doing and not doing to spread of the deadly virus
4:55PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Tottenham top after beating Man City, Villa fades in EPL
Tottenham beat Manchester City 2-0 to go top of the English Premier League as the long-running rivalry between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola continued
4:47PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Carson says he's 'out of the woods' after battling COVID-19
Housing Secretary Ben Carson is crediting unapproved, experimental treatments with saving his life after saying he became “desperately ill” following his infection with the coronavirus
2:46PM ( 2 hours ago )
G-20 summit opens as leaders urge united response to virus
The Group of 20 summit has begun with appeals by the world’s most powerful leaders to collectively chart a way forward as the coronavirus pandemic overshadows this year’s gathering, transforming it from in-person meetings to a virtual gathering of speeches and declarations
1:24PM ( 3 hours ago )
Week offers snapshot of how Trump, Biden approach presidency
Joe Biden spent the past week at his Delaware home carefully trying to build a government and preparing to take on a pandemic
1:20PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP National News
Mortar shells hit Kabul residential areas; at least 8 dead
An Afghan official says at least 23 mortar shells targeted different residential areas in Kabul, killing at least eight people and wounding 31 others
10:47AM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: Calif Gov. Newsom’s child in 14-day quarantine
One of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s children may have been exposed to the coronavirus at school and is in quarantine
10:15AM ( 7 hours ago )
Asia Today: South Korea mulls steps as new virus cases rise
South Korea has reported 386 new cases of the coronavirus in a resurgence that could force authorities to reimpose stronger social distancing restrictions after easing them in October to spur a faltering economy
9:16AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online National News
France: Bill on publishing police images sparks protests
Thousands of people in France have protested a proposed security law that would make it a criminal offense to publish images of police officers with the intent to cause them harm
3:03PM ( 2 hours ago )
Protests staged across France against bill on police images
Thousands of people took to the streets in Paris and other French cities Saturday to protest a proposed security law they say would impinge on freedom of information and media rights
12:27PM ( 4 hours ago )
White House Rose Garden adds Japanese American's sculpture
The White House Rose Garden has a new addition, but it isn't a floral variety
9:33AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: China starts mass testing 3 million in Tianjin
China is starting mass testing on 3 million people in a section of the northern city of Tianjin and has tested 4,015 others in a hospital in Shanghai after the discovery of a pair of cases there
12:42AM ( 16 hours ago )
'Something very historical': Push for diverse Biden Cabinet
Native Americans are urging President-elect Joe Biden to make history by selecting one of their own to lead the Interior Department, which oversees the nation’s tribes
12:36AM ( 16 hours ago )
The Latest: Japan's confirmed COVID-19 cases hit new record
Japans health ministry says the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan reached a record for the third day straight, at 2,418 cases
11:25PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Asia Today: South Korea, Japan mull steps as new cases rise
South Korea has reported 386 new cases of the coronavirus in a resurgence that could force authorities to reimpose stronger social distancing restrictions after easing them in October to spur a faltering economy
12:43AM ( 16 hours ago )
Georgia residents, doctor, lawmaker helped in vaccine effort
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Savannah’s Dr. Paul Bradley, who in July dosed the first patient in biotechnology company Moderna’s U.S. phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial, on Monday celebrated the...
12:01AM ( 17 hours ago )
US, Taiwan step up economic cooperation in new dialogue
The U.S. and Taiwan are stepping up cooperation in a newly created economic dialogue, in another move from the outgoing Trump administration to increase official exchanges with the self-ruled island
12:00AM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Business
COVID-19 deaths of Serbian clerics highlight virus worries
The coronavirus-related deaths of two Serbian Orthodox Church clerics in Europe are highlighting concerns about what religious institutions and the faithful are doing and not doing to spread of the deadly virus
4:55PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Tottenham top after beating Man City, Villa fades in EPL
Tottenham beat Manchester City 2-0 to go top of the English Premier League as the long-running rivalry between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola continued
4:47PM ( 37 minutes ago )
No. 3 Ohio State beats back comeback bid by No. 9 Indiana
Master Teague rushed for a career-high 169 yards and two touchdowns and No. 3 Ohio State held off a comeback by No. 9 Indiana to win 42-35
4:36PM ( 49 minutes ago )
Nevada facing double-bind of rising cases, limping economy
As the coronavirus surges to record levels in Nevada, the governor has implored residents to stay home
3:29PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Italy hits nearly 35,000 new daily virus cases
Italy registered 34,767 new cases on Saturday, about 2,500 fewer than the previous day
3:27PM ( 1 hour ago )