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Guatemala: Protesters set fire to parliament amid demo against new budget

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Protesters demonstrating against Guatemala’s recently passed budget bill broke in and set fire to parts of the country’s parliament building in Guatemala City on Saturday.

Police forces were quickly called to the scene of the fire where they proceeded to take several protesters into custody while firefighters attempted to extinguish the fire both from inside and outside the building that houses the unicameral Congress of the Republic.

Protesters could also be seen engaged in scuffles with law enforcement who used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Earlier in the day, some 7,000 demonstrators rallied in the city’s Constitution Square, in front of the National Palace, where they called for President Alejandro Giammattei to resign over the new budget, which saw lawmakers increase funding for their own meals while cutting education and health spending.

The protesters allege that the budget bill was negotiated and approved late on Tuesday night, while the public was distracted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of back-to-back hurricanes which claimed dozens of lives and saw 210,000 people evacuated from their homes in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras.

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