As Pandemic Pummels Guatemala, Government Stalls

Jeff Abbott wrote recently, in El Faro English, of the desperate situation in Guatemala regarding the COVID pandemic, and the government’s poor response, rooted in corruption, while noting that “the president is indifferent”. It is within this crisis context that Juan Francisco Sandoval was sacked as head of FECI.

Full hospital beds. Striking medical workers. Millions of unadministered vaccines. These are just some of the reasons Guatemalans are calling for the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei nearly one year after Guatemala re-opened. The lockdown in Guatemala lasted only a few short months, from March to September 2020. 

The number of Covid cases has exploded recently, averaging around 2000 new recorded infections per day, with 2,963 cases being registered on July 13. At the same time the number of tests being conducted has plummeted. 

Faced with the increased calls for his resignation, President Giammattei announced that he would declare a State of Emergency to quell protests, referring to them as “illegal” and suggesting the people protesting were mentally unstable. The declaration was officially issued on July 13.

“The president is indifferent,” Lucrecia Hernández Mack, a current congressional representative with the centrist Semilla party and former Health Minister, told El Faro English. “He’s making fools of [the country] internationally. He’s washing his hands [of the crisis].”

On July 9, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei held a national broadcast to blame the population for the rise in cases and to announce that the country would not be closing, adding that the economy is doing well. He also stated that the country would vaccinate one million people in the following week. The government missed that mark.

By July 13, Guatemala had registered 322,120 cases of covid-19 since the virus was first identified in the country in March 2020, resulting in 9,756 officially recognized deaths. The latest peak comes as Guatemala’s Health Ministry has failed to renew contracts for medical personnel at the temporary hospital in Guatemala City and medical workers in Sololá are on strike due to poor working conditions and lack of facilities for vaccines. Testing and the limited vaccination campaign remain concentrated in urban centers, and limited to the elderly.

You can read the full article, including links, here, As Pandemic Pummels Guatemala, Government Stalls.

Categories: Corruption, Guatemala, Human Rights, Impunity, Justice, Poverty, Violence

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