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News > Guatemala

Indigenous Guatemalans Complete 200km March Against Corruption

  • Indigenous people in Guatemala protesting against the corrupted ruling elite.

    Indigenous people in Guatemala protesting against the corrupted ruling elite. | Photo: EFE

Published 9 May 2019

Indigenous groups in Guatemala, joined by campesinos, students, feminists finished an 8-day march in Guatemala City to protest against a corrupt government. 

Hundreds of Indigenous people from Guatemala finished a 200 km march Wednesday to protest systemic corruption in the country's upcoming June 16 elections. They are demanding and end to continual, high-ranking graft scandals and for equality within the country that ranks 144 of 180 within Transparency International's corruption index.


Guatemala: CICIG to Lift Politicians' Immunity in Graft Case

"We are marching for justice and to defend our rights," Fidelia Ramirez, a member of the Achi Maya council of Ancestral Authorities, said to Al Jazeera.

Known as “March of Dignity for Life and Justice,” the long-walk started May 1 in the highland city of Quetzaltenango, ending May 8 in Guatemala City.

The demonstrators organized to reject the country's corrupted ruling elite and the judicial system that fails to bring nation's war crimes to justice. Protesters are also there to denounce "the pact of corruption" between the three branches of government they say are acting together to protect powerful businesses and politicians.

The organizers vehemently reject measures currently being debated in Congress, such as a reform to the National Reconciliation Law that would allow former soldiers convicted of war crimes would be released.

"Those who have entered into government have entered into a pact with militaries, the business community, and drug traffickers trying to remain in power," said Daniel Pascual, the coordinator of the Committee for Campesino Unity, one of the organizers of the march.

According to the groups, Guatemala needs to create a new constitution that recognizes and respects the rights of people and nature.

The demonstrators are also denouncing legislative bills under discussion in Congress that would further criminalize abortions.

"The march entered the center of the capital of Guatemala. They demanding the end of corruption. They ask that he surrender to justice."

"They are only implementing laws that benefit themselves," Pascual said. "They continue to take the wealth out of our country."

The protesters also have no confidence in the country's upcoming presidential elections. Presidential candidate and public favorite, Thelma Aldana, was arbitrarily detained in March and again while through Honduras in April. The former attorney general is well-known for fighting government corruption during her tenure that included helping to put former Guatemalan president Otto Molina behind bars for graft.

On Monday, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) said that it was able to lift legislative immunity for a presidential candidate who is also a member of Congress and six other naitonal lawmakers, as well as a cabinet minister for allegedly receiving kickbacks in exchange for votes.

The Central American country experienced a new scandal when the right-wing Union for National Change (UCN) presidential candidate, Mario Estrada, was arrested in the U.S. April 17 also on corruption charges.

"We are not confident in the election," said Ramirez adding, "We do not want any more corruption in Congress. If one corrupted official remains, then we are obliged to return to the streets."

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