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News > Guatemala

Guatemalan Congress To Discuss New State-of-Calamity Decree

  • The banner reads,

    The banner reads,"Giammattei, traitor," Guatemala, Aug. 20, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @ruda_gt

Published 20 August 2021

The measure rose harsh criticism from health professionals, who object to its effectiveness in combating the pandemic.

Guatemala’s Congress convened for Friday the second debate of the 30-day "state of calamity" decree issued by President Alejandro Giammattei on Aug. 13 to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.


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The measure, which includes the imposition of a curfew between 22:00 and 04:00, rose harsh criticism from opposition politicians and health professionals, who object to its effectiveness in fighting the disease.

After nearly eight states of calamity and a public expenditure of over US$2,580 million, COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Guatemala, which this week reported a daily average of about 3,500 cases. Vaccination to vulnerable groups has not either advanced since the vaccines donated through the COVAX mechanism were grabbed by the political elites.

"With the state of calamity, the president seeks a blank check," lawmaker Orlando Blanco highlighted, arguing that this measure opens the door to the misappropriation of public resources by allowing Giammattei to make purchases without following the Recruitment Act procedures.

Due to the lack of a quorum, lawmakers suspended the session in which they began to analyze the state-of-calamity decree on Thursday. Given that this decree was not approved as a national emergency measure by the Congress, it will need other two readings for its ratification, modification, or disapproval.

On August 13, several Indigenous leaders granted Giammattei a five-day deadline to leave the office for dismissing Juan Sandoval, an anti-corruption prosecutor. Farmers, workers, and students on Thursday took part in a mass anti-government protest.

Human rights defender Ruth del Valle said these he mobilizations could cause the resignation of the president, as also happened in 2015. However, she stressed that Giammattei's departure from office will not be enough

"Guatemala needs to stop responding to the economic interests of the elite. It needs to eradicate racism and social differences," she said.

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