Ex-military officers stormed the Guatemalan Congress in the wake of the demonstrations on Tuesday to demand financial compensation for services rendered in the context of the internal armed conflict.
Protesters have been gathering at the gates of the Congress in the capital of Guatemala since the morning, although after hours of protests the protest has led to riots in the historic center of the city, according to the Guatemalan media “La Prensa”.
In the midst of the unrest, the demonstrators finally managed to enter the congress at around 3:45 p.m. (local time) and break open the access doors, although the local police had erected barricades to prevent this and the building’s security team tried to use the entrances Protect beams.
Some of the MPs and staff in the building were moved to a secure area in the same building, while protesters destroyed and vandalized offices and interiors and set fire to some areas of the parking lot.
In addition, they attacked media workers who covered the events, while no attacks or injuries between staff and deputies were reported, reports the Guatevisión channel.
MEP Luis Fernando Pineda denounced on Twitter that the veterans who entered “with machetes” “broke down the front door, destroyed vehicles and burned offices in the parking lot”.
Several of the MPs have claimed to have been detained in the building by the protesters before they even entered the headquarters – around 2:00 p.m., according to the media.
Authorities then said there were around a hundred people in Congress at the time of the events. According to the Guatemalan press, around 15 MPs and the Minister for Energy and Mining, Alberto Pimentel, were also there.
A “tense calm” has returned as firefighters moved into Congress to put out fires on at least five vehicles in the parking lot and agents again blocked some entrances after displacing protesters with tear gas, which caused widespread damage to have .
In addition, about an hour and a half after the ex-military’s forced entry, the Interior Ministry reported on Twitter that “the integrity of those who remained in Congress has been protected”.
In addition, military veterans participating in the protests around Congress threw stones at the building, to which insurgent groups responded with tear gas.
Similar incidents have occurred on other streets in the historic center of Guatemala City, while currently a number of victims have not been offered due to the violence, despite police claiming that “several” agents are in the hospital and that people have been injured.
In view of the facts, Guatemalan human rights attorney Jordán Rodas urged the Interior Ministry and the national police to “act immediately” and “make the arrests made in the face of blatant crimes in accordance with the law, the demonstration called by the ex-military”.
Following the events, the National Police reported the arrests of the first four people related to the unrest in Congress, Teléforo Ramírez López, Mynor de Jesús Barrientos, Juan Parachico Sánchez and Ernesto Martínez.
Other alleged perpetrators of the attack are in the city’s San Juan de Dios General Hospital, the body has also been identified, reports ‘La Prensa’.
For his part, Interior Minister Gendri Reyes assured in a press conference that around ten associations and fifteen leading figures were involved in the unrest.
Reyes has stated that these are “structures that masquerade as associations but are used to commit criminal acts” and that the vandalism and attack on Congress are “facts unrelated to the peaceful demonstration”.
The minister also confirmed that the attackers used machetes, sticks, knives and other blunt objects to gain access to the property.
Against this background, he justifies the police action with the use of tear gas in and around the building, since in his opinion “thanks to this intervention there is no longer a burnt-out congress”.
For its part, the Guatemalan public prosecutor has announced that a preliminary investigation has been launched into the events that took place during the demonstrations on Tuesday.
CLAIM, WHAT FROM GIAMMATTEI. IS PROMISED
The incidents happened on a day when Congress was holding a plenary session that was canceled due to protests.
The ex-military is demanding financial compensation of 120,000 Guatemalan Quetzals (more than 13,000 euros), health insurance and permission to access land for services rendered in the context of the internal armed conflict. With these goals in mind, they carried out mobilizations and blockades.
Congressional committees discussing a related bill offered to listen to the veterans’ demands, so the blockades were lifted on October 14th. However, the ex-military warned that if their demands are not met within a week, they will take the capital and block all access to it.
The proposed law provides for compensation of 120,000 quetzals for each former military member or the relatives of those who have already died. The veterans are defending their demands in a “political commitment” that they allegedly entered into with the President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, who promised the benefits now demanded in the campaign.
The civil war in Guatemala left thousands of dead and disappeared in the country, with numerous massacres by the armed forces, until 1996 peace was signed between the government and the guerrillas of the National Revolutionary Unit of Guatemala.