Guatemalans take to streets demanding president’s resignation

August 5, 2021
In November, 2020, more than half a million people protested government corruption in Guatemala. Photo: David Toro/Prensa Comunitaria

Eight months after last year’s nationwide anti-government protests, Guatemalans have once again taken to the streets demanding the resignation of far-right president Alejandro Giammattei, his cabinet members and attorney general Maria Consuelo Porras.

They are demanding an end to the widespread corruption in the country as well as comprehensive policies to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. As of August 3, the country has registered over 370,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and around 10,450 deaths due to the disease.

For the past five days, since the massive national strike on July 29, thousands of citizens, members of numerous social, Indigenous, peasant, student organisations and trade unions have been mobilising in different parts of the country in rejection of the involvement of the government officials in corruption scandals and the mismanagement of the pandemic.

Guatemalans are also demonstrating against Porras’ decision to dismiss Juan Francisco Sandoval from the position of the head of the Special Prosecutor Against Impunity (FECI). Sandoval was leading the investigations and inquiries regarding corruption processes in the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies.

Sandoval has left the country due to physical threats and judicial actions against him. According to the mobilising sectors and the opposition, corruption and impunity will worsen in public institutions following Sandoval’s removal.

In the capital Guatemala City, citizens marched on July 29 from the San Carlos University to the Congress, the presidential building, the public ministry and Constitution Plaza. Outside the capital, other protest activities, such as roadblocks — including a sit-in on the Inter-American Highway — rallies, among others were organised in all 22 departments. Since July 29, demonstrations have been held throughout the national territory every day.

Transport workers blocked the Inter-American Highway in the regions of Las Pozas, Sayaxché and Petén on August 3, demanding that the Constitutional Court annul a government agreement concerning insurance for passengers and cargo transport. They also expressed their support for the call from diverse sectors for the resignation of the president and the attorney general.

The call for the recent mobilisations was made by Indigenous organizations — particularly of the Mayan, Garifuna and Xinca communities — via social media networks. Later, civil society groups and unions joined their call. The Indigenous organisations have once again emphasised their long-standing demand for the establishment of a plurinational state.

In the midst of the protests against Sandoval’s dismissal, on August 3, Porras appointed Rafael Curruchiche as head of the FECI. Previously, Curruchiche was the head of the Prosecutor’s Office for Electoral Crimes.

[Reposted from Peoples Dispatch.]

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