Political Crisis in Guatemala, Once again

The fire of the Legislative Palace and the capture of more than 30 people, is the balance of the violent demonstrations that took place on November 21 in the capital of the country, after a discontent was generated due to the approval of the National Budget 2021.

Monday, November 23, 2020

During the early morning of November 18, the Congress of the Republic approved the Income and Expenditure Budget of the State, which amounted to approximately $12,815 million. Due to the fact that this is the highest budget in the history of the country and that due to the economic crisis generated by the Covid-19 outbreak, public income has decreased, several sectors expressed their discontent with the imminent rise in debt levels.

In a statement dated November 19, the Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial and Financial Associations (Cacif) recommended that President Alejandro Giammattei veto the proposed 2021 Budget.

The document of the union states that "... in the interest of peace and tranquility of the citizens, we request the President of the Republic, in accordance with the Constitutional mandate to watch over the transparency and efficiency of public finances for the good of the country, to veto the decree recently approved by the Legislative, thus avoiding a serious irresponsibility."

The crisis worsened when, in a message transmitted in the late afternoon of November 20, Vice President Guillermo Castillo proposed to President Alejandro Giammattei that they both resign from their positions, arguing that it was the best thing for the country.

By November 21, several groups called for demonstrations in the country's capital and several departments. Although the protests began peacefully, during Saturday afternoon a group of people entered the Legislative Palace and threw objects with fire, setting some areas of the building on fire.

In response to the disturbances, the National Civil Police began to break up the demonstrations by throwing tear gas bombs and using force. By the end of the day, authorities had arrested 37 people.

After the chaos generated over the weekend, the deputies took a step back. In a national broadcast in the early morning of 23 November, the Board of Directors of the Congress announced the suspension of the General Budget for 2021.

President Alejandro Giammattei asked Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) to enforce the Inter-American Democratic Charter in view of the events that had occurred.

This political crisis arises only ten months after Giammattei's inauguration, who had to assume his mandate in a context of health and economic crisis, which has now also become political.

In an attempt to retake control of the country, the president has expressed his interest in opening up to an "inclusive dialogue that allows for an understanding between all sectors of national life," details an official statement.

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