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News > Guatemala

Guatemalan Riot Police Retake Control of Congress

  • Authorities are present at the Congress headquarters during a protest by retired military personnel in Guatemala City.

    Authorities are present at the Congress headquarters during a protest by retired military personnel in Guatemala City. | Photo: EFE / Esteban Biba

Published 19 October 2021 (18 hours 26 minutes ago)

More than 200 riot police officers of the National Civil Police (PNC) of Guatemala regained control of the Congress of the Central American country, after it was invaded Tuesday by force by military veterans who demanded economic compensation for their services in the internal armed conflict (1960-1996).

Policemen threw tear gas bombs at the demonstrators in the sectors surrounding the Congress until they managed to stop the chaos that continues in the Parliament facilities and its surrounding streets in the historic center of Guatemala City.

 The Guatemalan State Perpetuates the Colonial Violence

The military entered after midday on Tuesday through the Legislative Body's facilities' parking lot and entered some offices of the place, where they burned some offices and at least five vehicles, according to Efe.

The PNC managed to get more than 100 workers and members of Congress to leave the facilities through alternate exits, including the roof. Still, several sectors criticized via social networks the slow action of the security forces against the demonstrators.

"The situation is complicated because they are holding us back," said the Minister of Energy and Mines, Alberto Pimentel, to local media still inside the Chamber, where he was due to a summons.

Also, congressman Luis Fernando Pineda asked for "help" in his social networks, pointing out that the ex-military had machetes and stones and managed to enter by knocking down the iron gate of the Legislative Palace parking lot.

"We ran to get into the patrol cars and get out of there through Ninth Avenue. We are all shocked. The ex-military are too violent; they are with machetes and stones, threatening. They burned my office and destroyed cars and other offices near the parking lot", said to Efe the Seed Movement deputy Luis Fernando Pineda Lemus, seconds after being evacuated.

The former combatants of the internal armed conflict had demonstrated on several days during the last two weeks, with road blockades. Finally, on Tuesday, they decided to take action against Congress.

The initiative requested by the veterans of the internal war is under analysis by the Defense, Finance and Human Rights commissions of Congress. It proposes a payment of 120,000 Quetzals (approximately US$15,500) for each of the ex-military personnel or their relatives if they have already died, granted in four annual payments.

Economic compensation to veterans of the internal war was one of the campaign promises of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei in his 2019 election campaign.

The internal war ended on December 29, 1996, with the signing of the Peace Accords between the Government and the Guerrilla composed by the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG), with a balance of more than 250,000 dead and disappeared, of which more than 90% of the cases are attributed to the Guatemalan Army according to the Commission for Historical Clarification of the United Nations.

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