Protesters in Guatemala Set Fire to Congress Building Over Spending Cuts

ANTIGUA, Guatemala — Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Guatemala’s capital on Saturday, setting hearth to the nation’s congressional constructing in a present of anger over a finances invoice handed this week that lower funding for well being care and training.

The demonstrations in Guatemala City, which additionally included peaceable marches in the central plaza, rocked a nation nonetheless recovering from back-to-back hurricanes that displaced thousands of people, destroyed houses and obliterated critical infrastructure. As heavy rains introduced on by the second storm pummeled impoverished cities in Guatemala’s highlands and coastal areas on Wednesday, the nation’s Congress handed a finances that lower spending on training and well being in favor of accelerating lawmakers’ meal stipends.

The invoice, which additionally proposed gutting a fund to fight malnutrition and slashed funding for the judiciary, set off rapid outrage and led to demonstrations throughout the nation.

One group of protesters kicked in the home windows of the Congress constructing and set a fireplace that despatched flames billowing out of the doorway, social media movies confirmed. Police officers sprayed tear gasoline at demonstrators and firefighters rapidly put the blaze out, in accordance to native information experiences.

On Twitter, Guatemala’s president, Alejandro Giammattei, denounced the arson. “We cannot permit public and private property to be vandalized,” he said in a tweet, including that those that dedicated “criminal acts” would “be punished with the full force of the law.” In an try to appease demonstrators, the president additionally mentioned in an earlier information launch that he was reviewing attainable modifications to the finances.

But the frustration with Mr. Giammattei’s management has additionally reached the best ranges of his personal cupboard.

On Friday, Vice President Guillermo Castillo mentioned in a information convention that he had “little communication with the president” and provided to resign, however provided that Mr. Giammattei stepped down with him. Mr. Giammattei has not responded to Mr. Castillo’s feedback.

Nic Wirtz reported from Antigua, Guatemala, and Natalie Kitroeff from Mexico City.

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