Guatemalans Take to the Streets Over Controversial Budget

On Twitter, President Giammattei claimed that “anyone who is proven to have participated in the criminal acts will be punished with the full force of the law.” However, Vice President Guillermo Castillo offered to step down “for the good of the country,” and called for the president to leave office as well. Many social institutions, including the Roman Catholic church in Guatemala, have expressed disapproval over the budget. 

Speaker of Congress Alan Rodríguez ended the uncertainty by announcing that Congress would shelve the budget. President Giammattei then promised a “dialogue” to resolve the contention. According to an official statement by the government, “the president expresses his most absolute openness to an inclusive dialogue that will allow an understanding among all sectors of national life.” The Organization of American States (OAS) has agreed to be part of the conversation.

However, not everyone supports this dialogue as a solution. The Central American Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank (ICEFI) refused to be part of it after being invited. Jonathan Menkos, ICEFI’s executive director, explains that “there were problems with the objective of what they wanted and what our objectives were. The government has the right to talk with who they want, but the need to establish the rules of the dialogue. We were told it was a technical discussion, but we found the morning of the dialogue that the others invited were not from think-tanks and that they did not have a technical analysis of the budget. They appeared to be organisations that were backing the government.” The Vice President has also refused to join.

Guatemala’s political instability and deep-rooted corruption have been worsened by the recent budget crisis. Moreover, in the face of continuing protests, as well as recovery from both the hurricanes and the coronavirus, the country has a long way to go.

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