Hundreds of protestors set fire to government building in Guatemala

Hundreds of anti-government protestors in Guatemala unleashed violent attacks as they stormed the Congress building before setting fire to an office inside. 

Emergency services were called as flames poured out of the windows of the legislative building in Guatemala City on Saturday afternoon. 

The protests come after President Alejandro Giammattei approved legislature for a controversial budget that cut educational and health spending last Wednesday. 

The violence erupted as police fired tear gas at protestors, and about a dozen people were reported injured.  

Around 10,0000 people were protesting in front of the National Palace in Guatemala City and around another 1,000  were demonstrating outside the Congress building.

A protestor is given medical treatment after the Congress building in Guatemala City was set alight.

(EPA)

Protestors claim the budget 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. 

The opposition says the budget prioritises big infrastructure projects to be handled by companies with government connections and overlooks the social and economic impact of the pandemic.  

Psychology professor Rosa de Chavarria said: “We are outraged by poverty, injustice, the way they have stolen the public’s money.”  

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

The protestors are calling for the president,  who condemned the fires on Twitter.

He said: “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.”  

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