HUNDREDS of protesters broke into Guatemala’s Congress and set fire to it after MPs and the President slashed spending.
Images flames shooting out of windows after the building was stormed by the mob furious at President Alejandro Giammattei.
The central American country has been devastated by Covid and back-to-back hurricanes the President with the backing of legislators has cut educational and health spending.
Guatemalans were angered because MPs approved $65,000 to pay for meals for themselves, but cut funding for coronavirus patients.
They say the budget was negotiated and passed by legislators in secret while the Central American country was distracted by the fallout and the pandemic.
The spending plan was negotiated in secret and approved by the congress before dawn on Wednesday.
It also passed while the country was distracted by the fallout of hurricanes Eta and Iota, which brought torrential rains to much of Central America.
Discontent had been building over the 2021 budget on social media and clashes erupted during demonstrations on Friday.
About 7,000 people were demonstrating in front of the National Palace in Guatemala City against the budget.
Security agents fired tear gas at protestors and there were people injured.
Giammattei condemned the fires in his Twitter account Saturday.
“Anyone who is proven to have participated in the criminal acts will be punished with the full force of the law,” he said.
He wrote that he defended people’s right to protest “but neither can we allow people to vandalize public or private property”.
The president said he had been meeting with various groups to present changes to the controversial budget.
Vice President Guillermo Castillo has offered to resign, telling Giammattei that both men should resign their positions “for the good of the country”.
He also suggested vetoing the approved budget, firing government officials and attempting more outreach to various sectors around the country.
TIERS ON STEROIDS
PM to reveal tougher three-tier rules — but last pub orders moved to 10pm
Woman sparks row after tradesman asks ‘who the f*** asks for quote at 12.15am?’
Lewis Hamilton to be awarded knighthood in New Year after 7th F1 world title
95% Covid deaths had underlying conditions & hosp beds LOWER than 5yr average
‘FROZEN WITH FEAR’
Mum hears man’s voice on hacked baby monitor saying her child is ‘cute’
The Roman Catholic Church leadership in Guatemala also called on Giammattei to veto the budget Friday.
Giammattei, a 64-year-old doctor, swept to power in January promising to clean up corruption and fight organized crime.
But his presidency has been dominated by controversy over his handling of the coronavirus, particularly deficiencies in the country’s hospitals.