The Guatemalan Congress annulled the controversial 2021 budget on Wednesday night, a few days after the parliamentary headquarters was burned in the protests that were generated by the approval of that expenditure.
Budget –the largest in the history of the countryequivalent to US $ 12.8 billion – had been repudiated by much of Guatemalan society.
The greatest criticism was towards the distribution of resources that, in a country where more than half of the population lives in poverty, favored the private sector over the most needy.
From the massive marches, which were initially peaceful, a group of protesters came out and took part of the Congress facilities and set them on fire.
Long and aggressive session
The burning of some of the offices forced the unicameral Parliament to temporarily hold sessions at the Miguel Ángel Asturias Cultural Center in Guatemala City.
Wednesday’s plenary session – which lasted more than nine hours – was at times heated, with verbal confrontations, insults and even a threat of blows between deputies. The president of Congress had to call to order repeatedly.
In the television broadcast of the session it was possible to see how two deputies, Mario Taracena and Édgar Reyes Lee, were about to attack each other before several of their colleagues intervened to avoid the crash.
On the other hand, the first vice president of Congress accused Taracena of physically and verbally assaulting her and the deputies of all the benches surrounded her to protect her. They said that the incident will be reported to the Public Ministry for your research.
In the end, the 2021 budget decree was annulled and definitively shelved with a vote of 121 in favor and 24 against.
At the same time, the request for two loans for US $ 594 million and US $ 20 million to finance the expense was canceled.
Now the government of President Alejandro Giammattei must reformulate the current 2020 budget of US $ 10,390 million to continue next year.
But that will not be the end of the problems for the conservative president who has barely been in power for 10 months and has seen its popularity drop to 30%, according to a survey conducted in July.
Much of the protests in recent days have to do with claims against corruption and government management. The protesters referred to the general “fed up” with the situation in the country and called for the resignation of the president.
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