Conflicts & War

Guatemala riot police retakes congress control

Guatemala City, Oct 19 (EFE).- More than 200 anti-riot agents of Guatemala’s National Civil Police regained control of congress after it was forcibly invaded Tuesday by military veterans who demanded financial compensation for their services in the country’s armed conflict.

Policemen threw tear gas bombs at protesters in sectors surrounding congress, until they stopped the chaos that continues in parliament facilities and its surrounding streets, in Guatemala City’s historic center.

The veterans entered after noon on Tuesday through the congress parking lot and accessed some offices there, where they burned some rooms and at least five vehicles, as EFE verified.

Police evacuated more than 100 workers and congressional deputies through alternate exits, including the roof, but several sectors criticized the slow action of security forces on social media.

“The situation is complicated, because they are holding us,” Energy and Mines Minister Alberto Pimentel told local media from inside the building.

Congressman Luis Fernando Pineda asked for “help” through his social media, adding that the insurgents had machetes and stones and managed to enter by knocking down the iron gate of the parking lot.

“We ran to get on the patrol cars and out of there through the ninth avenue. We are all shocked. The ex-military are too violent, they are threatening us with machetes and stones. They burned my office and destroyed cars and other offices near the parking lot,” lawmaker Semilla Luis Fernando Pineda Lemus told EFE after being evacuated.

The ex-combatants of the internal armed conflict had demonstrated on several days during the last two weeks, with roadblocks and took action against congress Tuesday.

The initiative requested by the veterans is being investigated by congress’ Defense, Finance and Human Rights commissions and proposes a payment of 120,000 quetzales (approximately $ 15,500) for each of the ex-military or their relatives if they already died, awarded in four annual payments.

Financial compensation to veterans of the internal war was one of the campaign promises of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei in his election campaign in 2019.

The war ended in 1996 with the signing of the Peace Accords between the Government and the Guerrilla made up of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit, with more than 250,000 dead and disappeared. More than 90 percent of the cases are attributed to the Guatemalan Army, according to the United Nations Commission for Historical Clarification. EFE


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