Bishops of Guatemala Call for Dialogue

‘Today’s Debts are Tomorrow’s Hunger’

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After the demonstrations, where citizens have been protesting against the government of Guatemala since Saturday, November 21, the country’s Primate, Archbishop Gonzalo de Villa y Vásquez of Santiago de Guatemala, invited the demonstrators to remain calm and called for dialogue, reported Fides News Agency.

The demonstrations, during which part of the congress site was set on fire on Saturday, led to clashes with the police. There were further demonstrations on Monday, November 23rd, despite the fact that Congress had announced early that morning that it would revise the controversial budget for 2021.

The President of Parliament Allan Rodríguez announced this together with 16 other MPs from the various parliamentary groups that are allied with the ruling party.

In the announcement, however, he did not explain what changes will be made.

The 2021 State Budget Project was rejected by all social sectors and is the cause of the protests that broke out on November 19, first on social media and then on the streets, where they still continue. The protesters are protesting against an increase in national debt and the unclear procedures in the approval of the budget by Congress.

The Bishops’ Conference of Guatemala issued a statement on the same day stating: “The way in which the budget was approved sparked outrage in very different sectors of the country over the opaque and certainly turbid approach underlying the decisions to achieve the necessary majority”.

According to the local press, the approval of the budget took place at 5 am on November 18 without all MPs having access to the content. Many social organizations joined the position of the bishops lamenting: “For ten consecutive years we have approved underfunded debts, but never before for such disproportionate amounts as this year. The country’s debt is frankly reaching worrying levels and today’s debts will be tomorrow’s hunger. The elimination or reduction of important elements seems to express resentment but also ethical myopia”.

The final request of the document – “We ask the President of the Republic to veto this budget and to do it for the good of the country” – was accepted, but the population is still on the street expressing discontent with the way Congress is acting

According to recent reports, the government agrees to a “dialogue” with the various social sectors of society.

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