Hundreds of protesters set fire to part of Guatemalan Congress building

View of an office of the Congress building set on fire by demonstrators demanding the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei in Guatemala City

Violence has broken out in Guatemala, as hundreds broke into Congress and set fire to the building amid huge protests in the capital.

About 1000 protesters were demonstrating outside the Congress building.

The flames in the Legislative Palace were visible from the street and the Red. According to media reports, security agents fired tear gas at protestors and there were people injured.

Guatemala's Congress, dominated by conservative pro-government parties, this week approved an nearly $13 billion budget, the largest in the country's history.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei warned on Saturday that demonstrators engaging in acts of vandalism would be held accountable.

President Alejandro Giammattei pledged "the full force of the law" against people who vandalize public property. "But we can not allow vandalism of public or private property", he posted.

At 99.7 billion quetzals (about $12.9 billion), the budget increased public debt while cutting funding for healthcare, education, human rights and the justice system, outraging people from students to business leaders in a year marked by the economic crisis of the coronavirus pandemic.

But Mr Giammattei has not responded publicly to that proposal and Mr Castillo has not shared the President's reaction to his proposal.

"For the good of the country, I asked him that we present our resignations together", Guillermo Castillo said in a message posted on social media.

The spending plan was negotiated in secret and approved by the congress before dawn on Wednesday.

"It was a devious blow to the people because Guatemala was between natural disasters, there are signs of government corruption, clientelism in the humanitarian aid", said Jordan Rodas, the country's human rights prosecutor.

He said the budget appeared to favor ministries that have historically been hotspots of corruption.



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