The protests of hundreds of military withdrawn this Tuesday in the Guatemalan Congress they left a balance of four journalists injured and a dozen police officers injured, in addition to two detainees and hundreds of officials and workers of the Legislative Organ with a nervous breakdown. The veterans, who were carrying machetes, sticks and stones, forcibly broke into the parliamentary building by breaking its iron gate, and where they burned legislative offices and five cars and three motorcycles, according to EFE.
According to official information, validated by the National Civil Police and the Human Rights Ombudsman, at least ten policemen were injured by the clashes, as well as four journalists from the local media Nuestro Diario, Prensa Libre, Quorum and Nuestro Mundo and several more they were threatened for their work. The injured photojournalist for Nuestro Diario, David Sanchielli, was hit with a stone on the head by the protesters, who also they broke his photographic equipment, he assured himself, after being treated by the fire brigade.
The demonstration turned violent around 2:00 p.m. local time (6:00 p.m. GMT), before the plenary session began. At that time there were only 12 of the 160 congressmen, who had to take shelter in offices, out of the reach of the protesters. Also inside the legislative offices was the Minister of Energy and Mines, Alberto Pimentel, who told local media that “the situation is complicated because they are holding us.”
The National Civil Police prepared an operation to evacuate the more than one hundred workers of the Congress, the deputies and the Minister of State in the street parallel to the parking lot where the protesters were; that is, at the other end of the building, where the security forces had already controlled the surroundings. At the end of the evacuation, the special anti-riot police forces managed to repel the violent and, around three and a half hours after the attack on the building, they managed to control the area and arrest two alleged implicated, who were later transferred to the court tower.
The ex-combatants of the internal armed conflict, who ask for compensation for their services to the Army during the civil war, they had demonstrated in several days during the last two weeks, with road blockades, and finally this Tuesday they decided to take action in Congress. The initiative requested by the veterans of the internal war is under analysis by the Defense, Finance and Human Rights commissions of Congress and proposes a payment of 120,000 quetzals (approximately 15,500 dollars) for each of the ex-military or their relatives if they already would have died, awarded in four annual payments. Financial compensation to veterans of the internal war was one of the campaign promises of the Guatemalan President, Alejandro Giammattei, in his election campaign in 2019.
The internal war ended on December 29, 1996 with the signing of the Peace Accords between the Government and the Guerrilla made up of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit (URNG), with a balance of more than 250,000 dead and disappeared, which in more than 90% of the cases are attributed to the Guatemalan Army according to the United Nations Commission for Historical Clarification.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.