Roman Gressier writes in El Faro about the national strike, called last week, in response to the sacking of Juan Francisco Sandoval. The paro nacional also confronted the government response to the pandemic, as well as rampant corruption.
The national strike conducted throughout parts of Guatemala on Thursday, July 29, came amid a surge of coronavirus cases and marked the highest-magnitude political tremor since the massive protests that dethroned president Otto Pérez Molina in 2015. Protesters staged dozens of rallies and highway blockades across the country, with the epicenter in the department of Totonicapán, the seat of the influential local Indigenous authority known as the 48 Cantons of Totonicapán, which originally called for the strike two days earlier.
“We didn’t go into the city today to deliver a petition. We didn’t travel today to negotiate or submit a memo. Today we stayed here, with dignity,” declared Martín Toc, president of the 48 Cantons, on the morning of the strike.
On the heels of the 48 Cantons’ call came dozens of others from diverse sectors of the public, including Indigenous authorities, rural development collectives, university groups, and small opposition parties. This political alliance has one clear point of convergence: demanding the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei and Attorney General Consuelo Porras.
This alliance, which the strike consolidated and put in the public eye, found an open flank in the administration one week prior. On Friday, July 23, Porras removed Juan Francisco Sandoval, head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI), the controversial wing of the Public Prosecutor’s Office which has most marked its independence from the Giammattei administration. Sandoval’s removal compounded two other main sources of discontent fueling the strike: the broader attacks against independent players in the justice system and the government’s embattled response to the pandemic. The removal was the breaking point, a resounding “enough” which on Thursday spanned from the capital to Petén.
You can read the full article, with photos and links, here Guatemala Tries to Repeat the 2015 Uprising against Corruption.
La versión española está aquí, El desconsuelo guatemalteco vuelve a manifestarse en las calles.