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Hundreds of protesters take over the Guatemalan Congress and set it on fire

A man protests in front of the Guatemalan Congress on fire this Saturday.Esteban Biba / EFE

Hundreds of protesters have taken over the Guatemalan Congress this Saturday and have set fire to several offices until they were evicted by the security forces and fire departments, who have put out the fire. The protesters, mostly hooded, have broken the entrance door to Parliament and also the windows, and then threw torches of fire inside. The deputies were not in the hemicycle and so far no injuries have been confirmed within the Congress, located in the center of Guatemala City.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei has recalled that there is a right to demonstrate in the country, but that he will not allow public or private property to be vandalized. “Whoever is proven his participation in these criminal acts will fall the full weight of the law,” he wrote in a message on his Twitter account.

For about 10 minutes, amid the chaos, protesters have managed to set fire to a part of Congress and also destroy what they found around them. Later they have been evicted with tear gas canisters by the National Civil Police. Fire brigades have already arrived at the scene to put out the fire. At the moment the damage caused is not known.

The seizure of Congress for a few minutes has taken place in the middle of a demonstration agreed for this Saturday by artists, groups and dozens of entities, with the aim of rejecting the State budget for 2021, approved by Parliament, in its majority ruling party, and presented by the Government of Alejandro Giammattei.

Thus, while hundreds of protesters took over Congress, thousands of other Guatemalans were peacefully demonstrating against Giammattei just one kilometer away in front of the National Palace of Culture (seat of the Government).

The protests against the Executive have originated after the approval of the budget last Wednesday at dawn. On Friday night, after Giammattei endorsed the budget, his vice president, Guillermo Castillo, assured in a press conference that the country is not “well” and urged Giammattei to resign together to “oxygenate” the Central American nation. .