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  • A march of the Guatemala’s Social and Popular Assembly departs from Quetzaltenango to the capital city in Guatemala, May 1, 2019.

    A march of the Guatemala’s Social and Popular Assembly departs from Quetzaltenango to the capital city in Guatemala, May 1, 2019. | Photo: Twitter / @AsambleaSP

Published 3 May 2019

Thousands of citizens are taking part in the "March of Dignity" amidst an electoral process plagued by scandal and irregularities.

Guatemala's Indigenous peoples and farmers continued Friday their "March of Dignity for Life and Justice Friday, a demonstration which began in the city of Quetzaltenango on May 1 and has been moving towards Guatemala City, where thousands of citizens will gather on May 8 to reject the corruption of the ruling class and the impunity war crimes committed during the civil war.

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In Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela, a group of young artists marked the beginning of the collective action by performing a dramatization of Indigenous labor exploitation in order to demand better wages for those who work in sugar cane, banana and coffee plantations.

Jose Luis Ramirez, a member of the Maya-Kaichea Indigenous Council, said that over 20,000 people are expected to reach the capital city to denounce "the pact of corruption" whereby the three branches of government were able to carry out a "technical coup d'etat".

According to the Indigenous groups, Guatemala needs to create a new Constitution that recognized and respect the rights of people and nature.

During the march, groups of Indigenous women carried red and white carnations to symbolize their physical and spiritual strength. Banner messages throughout the march read things such as "Women take care of mother earth, water and seed, to live with dignity and in harmony."

In Guatemala, due to the ongoing "scenario of democratic regression and loss of human rights, those who walk for dignity give us hope and are our society's moral reserve," a human rights defender Jorge Santos said, recalling his country is going through a complicated political situation due to the "indignity" created by agreements between politicians, drug traffickers and bureaucrats.

"Third day of the 'March of Dignity' that has been touring the Guatemalan highlands. Its slogans are 'NO to the corrupt pact' and 'NO more criminal prosecution of indigenous and peasant leaders.'

The Central American country experienced a new scandal when the Union for National Change (UCN) presidential candidate, Mario Estrada, was arrested in the United States on April 17 and accused of requesting money from the Sinaloa cartel for his campaign.

This right-wing businessman, who would have planned to kill his rivals in the next June 16 elections, enjoyed legal immunity despite having been investigated since last year. Nevertheless, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal authorized his candidacy on Feb. 15.

Meanwhile, Guatemalan congressmen sought to "revive" the 5272 Initiative, a bill which proposes removing sexual and reproductive rights, as a desperate form to obtain votes from Christian and Catholic conservative groups.

"45 days before the elections, congressmen are willing to sacrifice women and girls' right to decide and censure the LGTBIQ community," local media Nomada reported and explained that such a bill "prohibits sex education, prohibits the promotion of sexual and gender diversity, prohibits marriage for same-sex couples and establishes prison sentences for women who abort, intentionally or accidentally."

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