Politics

Guatemalans protest against social confinement from their vehicles

Guatemala City, May 28 (efe-epa).- A hundred Guatemalans gathered to protest from their vehicles on Thursday, demanding the end of social confinement in order to “open the economy” and allow a “return to work.”

From their cars adorned with Guatemalan flags, the protesters advanced from El Obelisco, in the southern zone 13, towards the Plaza de la Constitución in the center of the capital under the slogan “Let’s not break Guate.”

Clad in masks with the national emblem, some personalities known in the country for their fight against the anti-corruption mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala were among those that left their homes to drive in a convoy to the central park and demonstrate their rejection of the restrictions.

Former deputies such as the ultra-conservative Fernando Linares Beltranena – lawyer for the retired military intelligence general Luis Fernando Ortega Menaldo, members of the far-right organization Guatemala Inmortal, and the director of public relations of the private Francisco Marroquín University, Luis Figueroa, participated in the protest.

They entered the historical center of the capital and one of the main avenues of the country and met with a tense moment with riot police who prevented them from passing, since during the coronavirus state of emergency, gatherings are prohibited.

Minutes after arguing that they were being denied freedom of movement, the police wall was dispersed and protesters entered the Plaza de la Constitución, where some of them got out of their vehicles with their flags and continued to yell slogans in front of the National Palace of Culture government office.

Another visible face in the movement against government’s social measures was the ex-candidate for Congress and columnist Giovanni Fratti, who assured that “crisis management has already failed. The virus has already spread out of the president (Alejandro Giammattei)’s control, it has already left the containment areas and the only thing left to do is to support the president in the health issue.”

When asked about the fear of becoming infected due to having gathered outside their vehicles in the central park, Fratti said he was sure of the “sanitary measures” they had taken, such as the mandatory use of masks and social distancing.

“I have nothing to fall back on, we want to work,” one protester shouted. Another asked for “public transport,” suspended by Giammattei since March 15.

One woman claimed that “without work there is no life” and another woman pleaded: “Let us work, president.”

Fratti agreed that non-conformists have “the right to rebel against illegal orders. We are here to tell the president that we are not going to abide by the 15-day lockdown,” in reference to the president suggesting Sunday the possibility of a two-week total lockdown if coronavirus cases increased to 500 a day.

After stressing that they were not seeking “government alms,” Fratti emphasized that “all the most advanced economies in the world: Italy, Spain, the United States, Germany, all those economies that have many more cases than Guatemala are already opening their economy. Thus it is a lie that we are going to heal locked up.”

The country has recorded 4,145 cases of COVID-19 with 68 deaths. The first of them was registered on Mar. 15, two days after the first case was detected.

On Mar. 22, the government of Guatemala decreed a partial curfew that was originally established from 4 pm to 4 am.

The curfew now prohibits movement from 5 pm to 5 am, and a complete lockdown has been decreed on the weekends. EFE-EPA

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