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  • The violent repression was implemented despite the fact Guatemala

    The violent repression was implemented despite the fact Guatemala's ombudsman Jordan Rodas urged authorities to treat with respect anti-government protesters. | Photo: EFE

Published 14 January 2018

The protesters reject corruption and impunity and demand the resignation of President Jimmy Morales and more than two-thirds of the members of Congress over alleged acts of corruption.

Guatemala's security forces violently evacuated hundreds of anti-government protesters who planned to gather in front of the Congress on Sunday as President Jimmy Morales was presenting the government's second report.

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Although authorities did not issue an official estimate, the Red Cross International reported that eight injured people received medical treatment from them.

Hundreds of police and military officers, including the infamous Kaibiles —a heavily armed anti-riot unit— as well as the Presidency's private officers, were waiting for the protesters in front of the Congress since early in the morning and in the surrounding streets.

The violent repression was implemented despite the fact Guatemala's ombudsman Jordan Rodas urged authorities to treat anti-government protesters with respect and condemned an excessive use of the force against them.

University students and teachers, campesinos, union leaders, women's groups and Indigenous people also joined the march, as anti-government protests have been held almost daily since Sept. 15.

According to the Citizen's Assembly Against Corruption and Impunity in Guatemala, 112 members of the Congress —out of a total of 158 members— were part of the "corruption pact" that has allowed politicians to maintain impunity in the country.

Morales is under investigation by the United Nations International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, or Cicig, for an unaccounted US$825,000 he spent during his 2015 presidential election campaign.

Just as the investigation was taking off, Congress passed several decrees in September that provided Morales with immunity from the investigation of the International Commission against Corruption and Impunity in Guatemala, or CICIG, while making it easier for elected officials to evade criminal responsibility for campaign finance fraud.

That same month, a government oversight agency found that Morales was receiving “bonuses” from the Guatemalan defense minister that totaled over US$60,000.

Several members of Morales' administration, such as his brother Samuel, his son Jose, his vice minister of foreign affairs, his interior minister, his finance minister and his labor minister have either resigned or been arrested on corruption charges.

The Central American state has been plagued with misdeeds for the better part of a decade-and-a-half. In 2007, a senior UN official said Guatemala was a "good place to commit a murder, because you will almost certainly get away with it."


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