Conflicts & War

Farmers hold large anti-government march in Guatemala’s capital

By David Toro Escobar

Guatemala City, Sep 21 (EFE).- Thousands of small farmers demanded the resignation of senior government officials during a march here Wednesday on different state institutions.

The primary target of the demonstrators’ wrath was Attorney General Consuelo Porras, whom they accuse of failing to investigate killings of their leaders.

The actions of “Attorney General Consuelo Porras have been regrettable because she is covering up the crimes of every public official, from the president to lawmakers and judges,” Lea Ramirez, one of the participants in Wednesday’s demonstration, told Efe.

Ramirez said she traveled 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the southeastern department of Jutiapa to join the Guatemala City demonstration organized by the 200,000-member Farmer Development Committee (Codeca).

The demonstrators gathered outside the headquarters of the AG’s office to demand the resignation of Porras, who was added to the United States’ “Undemocratic and Corrupt Actors” list in 2021 for “obstruct(ing) investigations into acts of corruption by interfering with criminal investigations.”

Porras is responsible for the persecution of more than a dozen prosecutors who have gone into exile in the United States, according to Codeca, which says her office also has failed to investigate the murder of 24 community leaders over the past five years.

Demonstrators arrived outside the AG’s office to “demand expedited investigations into the murders of our comrades that are remaining in impunity,” lawmaker Vicenta Jeronimo of the left-wing Movement for the Liberation of Peoples, Codeca’s political arm, told Efe.

Over the past five years, at least 24 male and female members of Codeca have been murdered, mostly community leaders who opposed mining projects, a rise in electricity prices and government corruption.

Wednesday’s demonstration departed from various points of Guatemala City and converged in the city center.

After demanding that the AG step down, the demonstrators headed to Congress to call for conservative President Alejandro Giammattei’s legislative allies to resign for pushing for legislation that encourages the criminalization of dissent and pro-mining bills.

“We demand the resignation of deputies promoting repressive laws, because we’re the ones taking to the streets to denounce all of their crimes,” Ramirez said.

In August, Guatemala’s Congress sought to pass a bill that would have allowed security forces to use lethal weapons against protesters.

The demonstrators said they also were protesting against those Giammattei-allied lawmakers for seeking to place the administration of all of Guatemala’s natural resources and natural reserves under the purview of the Environment Ministry.

“Regrettably, we have a Congress with a majority of lawmakers dedicated only to serving the interests of large business leaders,” Jeronimo said.

On Sept. 14, that lawmaker called attention to the country’s human rights situation by placing chains around her arms during an event in Congress to mark the anniversary of Guatemala’s independence.

Also Wednesday, the farmers demanded that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal guarantee equal rights for all political parties that compete in Guatemala’s 2023 general election.

The day’s events concluded outside Guatemala’s National Palace, where demonstrators demanded that Giammattei step down for allegedly heading up a plan to co-opt the country’s judicial system. EFE


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