Biggest anti-president protests break out in Guatemala over budget

Riot police form a cordon as flames shoot out from the Congress building after protesters set a part of the building on fire in Guatemala City Saturday Nov. 21 2020. Hundreds of protesters were protesting in various parts of the country Saturday agains

Riot police form a cordon as flames shoot out from the Congress building after protesters set a part of the building on fire in Guatemala City Saturday Nov. 21 2020. Hundreds of protesters were protesting in various parts of the country Saturday agains

Protestors say the budget was passed in secret while the Central American country battled the Covid-19 pandemic and the crippling aftermath of back-to-back hurricanes.

Hundreds of anti-government protesters in Guatemala have vandalised and set fire to parts of the Congress building, before being dispersed by riot police.

Carrying the national flag and banners that said "No more corruption", "Giammattei out", and "They messed with the wrong generation", the protesters filled the central square in Guatemala City in front of the old palace.

A man walks past an office of the Congress building set on fire by demonstrators during a protest demanding the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei, in Guatemala City, Guatemala November 21, 2020.

According to media reports, security agents fired tear gas at protesters and there were people injured.

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"I reiterate that you have the right to demonstrate in accordance with the law".

The protesters are now pressing for President Alejandro Giammattei to resign. He wrote that he defended people's right to protest, "but neither can we allow people to vandalise public or private property". "Whoever is proven to have participated in these criminal acts will fall under the full weight of the law", Giammattei tweeted.

The demonstrators, majority hooded, broke the entrance door to Congress as well as its windows, hurling flaming torches inside, with no deputies present inside the building.

Guatemalans were angered because members of Congress approved US$65,000 ($89,000) to pay for meals for themselves, but cut funding for coronavirus patients and human rights agencies, among other things.

Mr Giammattei's vice president said on Friday night he had asked the president to resign with him. Castillo said he would not resign alone.

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