Latin America

Guatemala: Congress on fire after protesters storm building

Hundreds of anti-government protesters in Guatemala have vandalised and set fire to parts of the Congress building, before being dispersed by riot police.

The building in Guatemala City was empty at the time of Saturday’s attack, which lasted for about 10 minutes.

The fire services put the fire out, but several people were treated for the effects of smoke inhalation.

The protesters are opposed to a budget approved by Congress of the Central American country on Wednesday night.

The opposition says the budget prioritises big infrastructure projects to be handled by companies with government connections and overlooks the social and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

They are also angered by what they describe as major cuts to education and health spending.

Another key complaints is that the budget was passed by parliament while the rest of the country was distracted by the after-effects of two damaging storms, Eta and Iota.

The protesters are now pressing for President Alejandro Giammattei to resign.

The bulk of Saturday’s demonstrations, which some observers said were the biggest yet against the budget, were peaceful.

Vice-President Guillermo Castillo earlier expressed his opposition to the budget, and said that both he and Mr Giammattei should step down “for the good of the country”.

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