Guatemala: Thousands Protest Government Corruption and Impunity

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Thousands participated in a peaceful demonstration in Guatemala on Saturday April 25 at 3pm in the capital city to demand the resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti, and the return of millions stolen from the national treasury.

The Secretaries-General Winaq Movement and URNG-Maiz, Amilcar Pop and Angel Sanchez filed a criminal complaint against President Otto Pérez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti, after the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Public Ministry dismantled a network of customs fraud and smuggling operating in the Superintendency of Tax Administration (SAT).

The Public Ministry and the CICIG (International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala) uncovered a criminal network known as “The Line” that had the ability to install or remove tax administration superintendents, to charge commissions of up to 30% of the value of the tax on importers and defraud the treasury at least $2.5 million quetzales per week. The network was led by Juan Carlos Monzon, former private secretary to Baldetti, who is currently a fugitive from justice.

Congress Deputy Amílcar Pop and Angel Sanchez filed a lawsuit against the presidential duo on charges of concealment, obstruction of justice, dereliction of duty, conspiracy for customs smuggling, criminal conspiracy, collusion, embezzlement and influence peddling. The lawsuit calls for immunity of both officials to be lifted.

A protest was called by 9 people on facebook which then went viral to demand the resignation of the President & Vice President under hashtag #RenunciaYa. Lainfo.es reported 10,000 people attended but the facebook event listed almost 40,000 in attendance.

Protesters sing the national anthem of Guatemala:

The demonstration in Parque Central was entirely peaceful although reports of discontent circulated in social media as protesters and local media denounced that phone signals were blocked preventing them from broadcasting and uploading content to social media.

“The blocking of the phone signal by installed devices also caused discontent.”

“Government blocks cell signal #ConcluGUATE #RenunciaYa”

Devices that were installed around the perimeter of the national palace appeared to have mounted cameras and lights. Human rights defenders who were in place to monitor the protests have demanded answers regarding why cell phone signals were not working in the Plaza de la Constitución. Guatevisión also reported that their website went down while they were broadcasting the protest. Siglo.21 published earlier today that telecom company Claro said they had no reports of problems but Tiga said their “antennas collapsed due to the quantity of people trying to access the service.”

“Attack on @Guatevision_tv page while it was broadcasting demonstration #RenunciaYa”

Network issues aside, massive crowds of people from many different socio economic sectors participated in the peaceful protest. No word yet if their demands for the President and Vice President to step down will be met but we will continue to monitor the situation in Guatemala for developments.

UPDATE:
An article published by Soy502 from 2014 gives details about equipment that is used to monitor large events and looks like the same equipment used during yesterday’s peaceful march in Guatemala city. Stationary modules with high resolution cameras placed at strategic points used in conjunction with drones that monitor from the air have been used previously.

“This equipment is part of the renewal of the national civil police and will be used not only in football matches but also at concerts and massive events, in order to monitor using technology to provide security,” noted Maurcio Lopez Bonilla Minister Interior.

“The law of access to public information in #Guatemala is so full of holes, maybe we never knew that equipment was used to monitor protests.”

Photo: Jesús Alfonso/Soy502

Photo: Jesús Alfonso/Soy502

Sources:
La Hora
Aristegui Noticias
Soy502
Comunitaria Press
laInfo.es
Siglo 21
Soy502

About Author

Erin Gallagher is a multimedia artist, translator and writer for Revolution News.