Indigenous Guatemalans demand president's resignation

Guatemala City (AFP) –


Thousands of rural Guatemalans marched on the capital Thursday to demand the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei for what they claim was a weak response to the coronavirus pandemic and other mismanagement.

The protest, called by the Codeca rights group for indigenous peasant farmers, saw people congregate on the central square in Guatemala City waving flags and banners calling for an end to corruption and to the privatization of service industries such as electricity.

"The people have returned to the streets demanding justice and demanding the resignation of all the corrupt," leftwing MP Vicenta Jeronimo said at the protest.

Giammattei is criticized for his handling of the pandemic which has claimed over 6,100 lives so far out of 168,880 recorded infections in the impoverished Central American country of some 16 million people, as well as for alleged mismanagement of the economy.

The country hopes to receive coronavirus vaccines through the UN's Covax mechanism by month's end.

The protesters also sought the resignation of Attorney General Consuelo Porras, who they accuse of impeding the fight against government corruption, and called for an investigation into alleged killings of members of the Codeca organization.

Guatemala's indigenous population lives mainly in the west of the country and make up about 43 percent of the nation.

Rights groups say they suffer discrimination and marginalization, and in some communities poverty rates exceed 80 percent.