Conflicts & War

Guatemalan lawmakers say war veterans who stormed Congress had help

By Jose Carlos Movil

Guatemala City, Oct 20 (EFE).- Guatemalan opposition lawmakers said Wednesday that the disgruntled war veterans who vandalized the congressional complex the previous day must have had assistance.

“There is someone behind this movement,” said Carlos Barreda, whose office was set on fire during Tuesday’s occupation.

The protesters had weapons and other equipment and arrived outside Congress, which points to the involvement of an organization and “an economic resource,” he said, urging prosecutors to uncover “the intellectual authors” of the violence.

“Will it turn out to be someone seeking a political distraction? Will it turn out to be a demonstration that there are now shock forces of military type? I don’t know, there are many questions and many interpretations,” Barreda said.

The legislator with the center-left UNE party also cited the puzzling absence of security personnel at the time of the assault.

“They (police) began to act when they protesters had already withdrawn,” Barreda said.

Four journalists and more than a dozen police officers were injured when the group of veterans of Guatemala’s 1961-1996 civil war stormed Congress to press for passage of a bill that would provide ex-soldiers or their families with roughly $15,500 in compensation.

The payments were promised by right-wing President Alejandro Giammattei during his 2019 campaign and congressman Aldo Davila said Wednesday that the head of state bears at least some of the blame for the attack on the legislative complex.

What happened on Tuesday was “an act of vandalism with political objectives,” UNE lawmaker Orlando Blanco told reporters.

The two – out of hundreds – invaders arrested by security forces appeared before a judge Wednesday for arraignment on terrorism charges. The men were identified as Ernesto Martinez Agustin, 47, and Juan Parachico Sanchez, 50.

While at the Congress building, Efe watched as prosecutors and investigators with the Attorney General’s Office collected evidence and documented the damage.

The vast majority of the estimated 250,000 people killed in the 1960-1996 conflict were indigenous peasants slaughtered by the army and its paramilitary allies. EFE jcm/dr

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