Guatemala’s current president Giametti boasts as a “centrist”, but is recognized as having a strong right-wing populist ideology.
On November 21 local time, hundreds of angry demonstrators set fire to the historic Capitol in Guatemala, a Central American country.
set fire to the palace
Discontent with the current government began to gloom a few days ago and broke out on Saturday, November 21: hundreds of excited demonstrators took to the streets with the blue and white flags of Guatemala, marched all the way to the square in the center of the capital, and painted various slogans on the outer walls of the ancient Capitol and Graffiti.
The demonstrators immediately clashed with the police. Some radical demonstrators broke into the Capitol. Not long after, fireworks broke out from the doors and windows of the building. Amid panic, the police fired tear gas at the demonstrators, and the conflict escalated.
According to foreign media citing multiple sources, the police arrested more than 20 demonstrators during the conflict that day, and the spokesman of the Guatemalan Red Cross, Le Mous, said that they treated nearly 50 injured. According to San Juan de Dios General Hospital, a total of 14 people were hospitalized, one of whom was seriously injured.
Although the scale of the demonstration is not very large by international standards, it is a rare social shock for a small Central American country with an area of less than 110,000 square kilometers and a population of 17.25 million.
The demonstrators mainly targeted the current President Jammatti and his 2021 budget with a total amount of 99.7 billion quetzales (about 13 billion US dollars). In this budget, which was approved earlier this week, the largest proportion of funds were allocated to infrastructure construction, and the share of the budget for eradicating child poverty and malnutrition was negligible, which caused widespread public dissatisfaction, especially among young Guatemalans.
Opposition and demonstrators pointed out that this “deformed budget” is full of traces of power rent-seeking and corruption, exacerbating the already severe social injustice.
The president in a twiss
Guatemalan President Giammatti, 64, could have been a “model of personal struggle”: he has three nationalities of Guatemala, El Salvador and Italy, and has three unsuccessful presidential elections on behalf of different political parties (2007, 2011 and 2015). He was appointed in 2006 As the head of the national prison system, he was forced to step down due to a series of conflicts of interest in less than two years.
As far as politicians are concerned, he is not old. However, due to multiple sclerosis, he had to walk on crutches.
In 2019, he joined the Forward Party, which was founded just two years ago, representing the party in the 2019 presidential election. In the first round of the presidential election on June 16 of that year, he ranked second with only 13.89% of the votes. Far ahead is Torres, a left-wing “National Unity Hope Party” candidate who won 25.42% of the vote.
Taking advantage of Guatemala’s electoral loopholes – nearly two months apart from the first and second rounds of voting, Giamatti and his party facilitated off-the-stage trading operations – to win several small parties to vote “abandon the vote” through the exchange of interests, and finally turned the tables with 57.95% of the vote, taking over as the general manager in February 2020. Unified.
Jammatti self-proclaimed as a “centrist”, but is recognized as having a strong right-wing populist ideology: opposing same-sex marriage and abortion, advocating the restoration of the death penalty and tough measures to combat triads and violence, supporting military intervention in domestic security issues, advocating the eradication of poverty through large-scale infrastructure construction, and tough.
Opposing illegal immigration, he said that “we will use thunder to deal with corruption” – although opponents call it a “violent president”, his declared political icon is India’s “Matrama” Gandhi, who flaunts “non-violent”.
However, the slogan is full, but the reality is very “bone-feel”: “Advande” was originally a small party with only two seats in the Guatemalan Parliament with a total of 160 seats. After the 2019 legislative election, it increased to 16 seats, but it was less than one-third of the seats of the largest party, the Hope for National Unity (54 seats), far from the majority of seats (81 seats) necessary for the passage of legislation.
To this end, Jammatti had to use senior cabinet positions to attract other parties in Congress to join. The administrative efficiency is low, and the nepotism relationship is intertwined. The so-called “anti-corruption” can only be empty talk.
Moreover, under this framework, the cabinet and Congress passed a series of bills that tilted towards infrastructure and economic stimulus models. These projects are often controlled by large consortia that have been criticized by the public in China, causing widespread social dissatisfaction.
Guatemala has also suffered since the outbreak of the coronavirus, and Congress has approved more than $3.8 billion in special loans to deal with it. However, in the past half of the year, only 15% of this special loan has been really used to respond to the epidemic.
The new budget just passed last week continues to focus on infrastructure and less on relief. And according to the analysis of financial experts, because of the limited fiscal revenue, the funding gap is as high as one-third. Whether it is debt or tax increase, the burden will eventually be passed on to the ordinary people. It is in this situation that the long-accumulating public anger bursts uncontrollably.
“Qing Forward Party” is divided
If the poor economic data are still understood by the public in this year’s environment, it is difficult to forgive the poor response to the epidemic.
Even according to the “suspicious” official data, as of November 21, the cumulative number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Guatemala had reached 118,417, with a total of 4,074 deaths. The poor management of the crisis response in Jammatti’s cabinet, especially the poor performance of hospitals, has aroused strong dissatisfaction from opposition parties and all walks of life.
Despite the political suppression of Torres, his opponent in last year’s election, the Hope for National Unity is still the far-leading largest party in Congress.
The “Kidima Party”, which was originally “innately insufficient”, has been divided in the face of heavy pressure – less than 24 hours before the “fire to the Capitol”, Giamatti’s running partner, Guatemalan Vice President Castillo, publicly confirmed through open letters and social platform accounts that he had “clear differences” with the president, and proposed “for the country”.
Family interests, let us resign together”, which is tantamount to sizing the president’s army.
But the problem is that Guatemala is a country with poor natural resources and a weak economic base. In recent years, the original “funder” of the United States has also become more and more lazy about “blood transfusion”.
The epidemic is fierce, poverty and social problems are hard to return – nearly 60% of the Guatemalan population lives below the poverty line, and nearly half of children under the age of five are malnourished. No matter which political party or politician comes to power, it is not easy to put out the “fire” that permeates the whole society.