Guatemala: Protests, blockades against Giammattei government

GUATEMALA CITY ( Associated Press) — Inflation, corruption and harassment of human rights defenders, judicial officers and journalists triggered protests involving thousands of farmers, indigenous people, students and social organizations in Guatemala on Tuesday.

The Directorate General of Safety and Road Safety of the Ministry of Communications said that nine of the 22 departments in the country had registered nine obstructions.

The Social and Popular Assembly – which brings together several organizations – said the protest responds to the actions of Alejandro Giammattei’s government and condemned a systematic weakening of the political and justice systems.

Various governments and entities – including the United States, the European Union, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Human Rights Watch – have expressed their alarm at the weakening of the rule of law in Guatemala, particularly in deportations in which officials have been compelled for their work in the fight against corruption.

More than 20 judicial officers went into exile after the attorney general’s office condemned the harassment. The head of the public ministry, Consuelo Porus, has been accused by the United States government of undermining the rule of law and obstructing the fight against corruption. In 2021, Porus was cleared by the country which had withdrawn his entry visa.

During the Giammattei government – which began in January 2020 – Congress passed a law that regulates NGOs at the discretion of the government and is currently debating a law that would, among other things, allow police and will give the army the power to use. weapons against protesters

Human rights defenders have condemned the protest being criminalised. In the first months of 2022, prosecutors led by Porras brought to justice three men who demonstrated against the government in 2020 alleging damage to property. He was later released due to lack of evidence against him.

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