Wait, what's going on in #Guatemala?!

The country is going to erupt in protests this afternoon after a series of long-simmering crises finally hit their boiling point. I'll have an article out at the end of the day, but will tweet context, protest pics, etc in THIS HERE THREAD:
In the 1730s... Just kidding. Tuesday night, while Iota rains were flooding areas already devastated by Eta, Guatemala's congress rammed through a budget bill, giving themselves extra millions for meals, cutting $25M for combatting malnutrition (they put it back after an outcry).
Today is not really about the budget bill. The budget bill was a match thrown onto a pool of fuel that has been gathering for years. There's widespread rage directed at the current congress and president but also at political and business elites that transcend administrations.
That said, certain aspects of the budget bill did trigger protests: the temporary axing of $25M re malnutrition, reducing the human rights ombudsman's office budget by $2.5M, cutting the judiciary's budget almost in half... and the bill's passage at breakneck speed overnight.
Movements of Indigenous survivors of genocide and other atrocities during the 36-year civil war point out the budget doesn't include funding for a promised peace commission to replace 3 institutions the president shut down. Statement attached. Background: vice.com/en/article/qjp…
Politicians, social movements, NGOs and the human rights ombudsman filed legal challenges to the budget -- mainly on procedural grounds -- with the Constitutional Court, which is processing at least 8, requiring congress to file a brief justifying its actions within days.
Calls grew for president Alejandro Giammattei to veto the budget bill, from diverse sectors: academic, business, social movement... and even VP Guillermo Castillo, whose relationship with the president has been tense for ages. Background on Giammattei: pri.org/stories/2020-0…
Then yesterday, the vice president said he had been unable to meet with the president to discuss urgent measures to address the situation, and then took it up a notch:

Vice president Guillermo Castillo publicly called on president Alejandro Giammattei to jointly resign with him.
Different people are calling for different things: resignations, a constitutional assembly, etc. Calls for the president to resign revive the #RenunciaYa slogan from 2015, when mass protests and a corruption investigation brought down a sitting president.
There are calls for 2pm protests today in plazas in cities and towns all over Guatemala, though some people are already getting started. I need to write for not-twitter for a bit but will come back to this thread in a couple hours to report from the plaza. To be continued...
Protests usually don't get going until an hour or more after the advertised start time, but it's not even 2pm yet and #Guatemala City's central plaza is already really filling up and many people are still on their way. "The state is a mafia," reads a banner by the sound stage.
Right now in #Guatemala:

"Estado fallido, ya viene el estallido"
It is a VEEEEERY different vibe down here outside congress, where a march led by university students has stopped. CONGRESS IS NOW LITERALLY ON FIRE...
Police moved in with tear gas and people advanced and scattered away from #Guatemala's congress, which is what you see ablaze. Firefighters are on scene and Red Cross personnel are nearby. I wasn't kidding when I said it's no longer discontent here. It's rage.
This didn't send a while ago for some reason, but after riot police moved in to clear the area outside congress, the scene in #Guatemala City's center became various groups of hundreds of protesters, some facing off against riot police with tear gas. Some scatter and regroup.
"I think this is just the beginning."

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of #Guatemala today and some set a fire in congress, after a controversial budget bill brought a series of long-simmering crises to a boiling point.

Here's my article: aljazeera.com/news/2020/11/2…
Protests continued. 20+ arrests. Some injured. Crackdowns on protests elsewhere. @PrensaComunitar has community-based correspondents all over; @ruda_gt & @laCuerda2 are feminist media. RIP my notifications so apologies if I don't see other Qs, but yes, that was a guillotine. /end
restart thread/ Ok, this is still flying around, so I'm going to add updates from the past 24 hours. I don't want to trash anyone's notifications so won't tag anyone, but will only cite tweets from journalists on the ground I recommend following if you understand Spanish.
Riot police crackdowns continued. They even tear gassed people rallying in the plaza who condemned property destruction. Protesters, bystanders and journalists suffered injuries. At least 2 people were hospitalized; 1 lost an eye, the other might too.
Several people were injured outside congress in the immediate aftermath of the fire, when riot police moved in to clear the area. (They were obviously nearby but conspicuously absent beforehand even though it was crystal clear congress would be trashed.)
There were demonstrations around the country and Guatemala City wasn't the only place riot police cracked down on protesters. This was in Huehuetenango, a predominantly Indigenous city in the western highlands, ~80km from the border with Chiapas, Mexico:
More than 40 protesters and bystanders were arrested in Guatemala City over the course of yesterday afternoon, evening and night. There were also several arrests in at least another couple cities. Police were all over the center last night.
President Alejandro Giammattei said that anyone identified as having participated in vandalism would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Ministry of the Interior (includes police) officials accused protesters of committing acts of terrorism.
The Human Rights Convergence, a platform of human rights groups in Guatemala, said that the president and the Minister of the Interior "are responsible for dictatorial, arbitrary and illegal acts against social protest," and called for government and cabinet resignations.
Prior to the protests, human rights ombudsman Jordán Rodas successfully petitioned the Constitutional Court to order police to respect the right to protest. Following police violence, he requested the court order the destitution of the Minister of the Interior and police chief.
Many Guatemalan journalists have spent all day covering proceedings against arrestees. Follow Jody García's A+ coverage. "We have to change the system... We'll return to the streets. That's a promise," one detainee says in this holding cell video she took:
Hearings continue, but so far the vast majority of charges (illegal protest, public disorder, property damage) against protesters have been thrown out and judges have criticized prosecutors' failure to present evidence. Arrestees celebrate the good news:
While people arrested yesterday were in holding cells and courtrooms, others gathered in Guatemala City's plaza again this afternoon and evening to continue protests.
Guatemala's government put out a statement saying violent acts threaten democracy, invoking the Inter-American Democratic Charter and asking the OAS to mediate dialogue. Meanwhile, protests continue and calls for tomorrow and beyond have been circulating.
I'm going to leave it there for tonight. In the 12 update tweets prior to this one, I cited tweets from 6 individual journalists and 3 independent publications. If you understand Spanish and want to follow Guatemala, I recommend following them, among others here. /pause thread
To all the DMing video producers: I make my living 100% from freelance writing so in the interests of not screwing over freelance photographers & videographers who make their living 100% from their work, I do not grant permission to use this video for free. Hire/pay them instead.
On second thought, I'm definitively ending this thread now. I'm still tweeting updates, but not in this thread because I need to mute notifications on this beast so I can get back to functional twitter and turn notifications back on on my cell and whatnot. Thanks for reading!

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More from @Sandra_Cuffe

4 Sep 19
* * State of siege declared in Guatemala * *
#Guatemala president Jimmy Morales just declared a state of siege in Izabal & areas of other departments. Three soldiers were killed yesterday in Izabal. There are multiple contradictory versions of events and most contradict Morales'.
The state of siege covers the entire department of Izabal plus 9 municipalities in Alta Verapaz, 4 in Zacapa, 2 in El Progreso, and 1 in Baja Verapaz. It is a huge swath of territory in eastern Guatemala. Much of it is Maya Q'eqchi' territory. Guess I'm doing a thread now... /2
The state of siege, established by executive decree following an emergency cabinet meeting, will last 30 days, but could be cut short or extended. The decree states that it both (a) is in effect immediately, & (b) needs to be ratified by congress (just sent) within three days. /3
Read 11 tweets
26 Nov 18
Today in #WhyPeopleFlee #Honduras, history edition:
Elections 1 year ago today were so suspect that the head of the OAS called for new elections, but the US recognized the outcome, deepening the crisis. Here's a thread of my reporting re US role, protests, crackdowns & more. 1/12
"They all know full well that the candidacy of Juan Orlando Hernández has no legal basis," priest and activist Ismael Moreno said of the US, OAS, UN, and European Union. The Honduran Constitution bans presidential reelection. That didn't stop it. 2/12 towardfreedom.org/archives/ameri…
The uprising against election fraud was also an uprising against authoritarianism and neoliberal policies. "In turn, the violent response to the protests has exposed ongoing tensions within the state, in the form of discontent among security forces. 3/12 nacla.org/news/2017/12/1…
Read 12 tweets

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