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“If the President wants to protect the lives of his people, he must speed COVID-19 vaccination,” lawmaker Rodolfo Neutze argued.
On Monday, with 103 votes in favor and 54 votes against, the Guatemalan Congress repealed the “State of Calamity” decree, which was issued by President Alejandro Giammattei on August 13 to halt the COVID-19 spread in the country.
"This is a great victory for the Guatemalan people. We celebrate it," opposition lawmaker Samuel Perez assured, arguing that this decree would have facilitated the corruption since it allowed Giammattei to make purchases without following the Recruitment Act procedures.
Lawmaker Rodolfo Neutze also assured the state of calamity decree, which included a curfew from 22:00 to 04:00, did not respond to the health crisis since the Giammattei administration had already established new measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic in July. “If the President wants to protect the lives of his people, he must speed COVID-19 vaccination,” Neutze argued.
Righti-wing lawmakers from Come On, National Change Union (UCN), and the National Convergence Front (FCN) parties supported this decree, which also restricted Guatemalan people’s assembly freedom.
Giammattei has recently faced criticism for the failed purchase of 16 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for US$160 million. Although Guatemala paid half the amount in April, this Central American country has so far received less than one million doses.
On Aug. 13, Indigenous leaders and student organizations gave him a five-day deadline to submit his resignation. "Our demand is based on the signs of incompetence, corruption, and impunity that his administration represents," Indigenous communities from the Totonicapan and Solola departments.
Since Giammattei did not comply with this, Guatemalans resumed their anti-government protests on Aug. 19 through a massive mobilization that blocked entrances to Guatemala City and reached the Congress building.