The corruption of the political system infuriates Guatemala



“Resignation”, the slogan shouted in the demonstrations on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 in Guatemala City targeted the conservative president, Alejandro Giammattei, and his government. The discontent accumulated for months exploded after the adoption Wednesday, November 18 of a 2021 budget of nearly 12.8 million dollars (11 billion euros), higher by 25% than that of 2020. If it provides large sums for the expenses of deputies, but also to private infrastructure builders, it leaves aside health and education, while 200 million quetzals (22 million euros) were withdrawn from the plan for the nutrition, in a country where according to the demonstrators ” 49% of children suffer from undernutrition ”.

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In Guatemala, the most populous country in Central America, with 17 million inhabitants, 59.3% of the population lives in poverty. Following the vote on Saturday, an angry group of protesters torched the seat of Parliament and entered the building. About 20 people were injured and 40 were arrested.

Health, social and humanitarian crisis

Human rights attorney Jordan Rodas is angry at “A vote is taken hastily and in the middle of the night, without transparency or debate”. ” This vote is really just a drop of water. People are exasperated that vulnerable communities, such as women and younger people, are being left out of government plans, again ”, activist Gabriela Villatoro also gets carried away.

Popular discontent is expressed after chaotic management of the pandemic and the floods, which killed 50 people in November. And against corruption: Guatemala occupies 146e rank of the corruption perception index out of 189, according to the NGO Transparency International, tied with its Honduran neighbor, closely followed by Nicaragua. “The corruption is considerable. Budgets are increasing, but hospitals are running out of equipment, schools are running out of equipment, and roads are in poor condition ”, continues Jordan Rodas.

Corruption and political instability

Guatemalans see successive governments and no longer believe in their president, in power since January 2020. “The little credibility he had has crumbled. There are certainly new deputies in Congress, but if the faces have changed, the practices are the same ”, regrets Jordan Rodas. “In the event of an election, there should be more deputies from civil society. And reform the creation and financing of political parties, now driven by private groups for greater transparency. “

The vice-president, Guillermo Castillo, who conceded “Excessive use of the police” after the concerns of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, proposed his resignation if Alejandro Giammattei also leaves power. In 2015, anti-corruption protests had already led to the resignation of the president, General Otto Pérez Molina.

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