GUATEMALA CITY – Hundreds of Guatemalans set out from various points of the capital Thursday to protest alleged corruption by a deeply unpopular government, the high cost of living and attacks on freedom of expression.
University students, faculty and other employees marched from the campus of the capital’s only public university carrying signs demanding that the corrupt get out. “If there is no justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government!” read one.
President Alejandro Giammattei is under fire for his reappointment of Attorney General Consuelo Porras, who has been criticized by the United States government and others for blocking corruption investigations and instead pursuing the prosecutors and judges who used to carry them out.
Most recently, her office arrested award-winning journalist José Rubén Zamora whose El Periodico newspaper has a reputation for corruption investigations, including against Giammattei.
Marchers were headed for Guatemala City’s historic downtown and the seat of power.
Leaders of Guatemala’s Indigenous population joined Thursday’s march as well, warning that the rising cost of living in the country was harming the people.
Enrique Saquic, an Indigenous leader from Santa Lucia Utatlán, said “they are strangling us, our brothers, our people are those who are suffering all this high cost of living.”
He also noted that the co-optation of the justice system had left Guatemalans defenseless.
Daniel Pascual, leader of the Committee of Farmer Unity, said the cost of living “means an increase in hunger for the poor.”
“The corruption in the end is the stealing of money from the people and those who pay taxes are the poor and middle class, because the rich don’t contribute equitably to the country,” Pascual said.
The United States has sanctioned Porras and included her and others on a list of corrupt actors in Guatemala who pose a threat to democracy. Giammattei however has stood by her, reappointing her to a second four-year term earlier this year.