Guatemala: Congressmen Torture an Already Dying People

Ollantay Itzamná in social protest against the Congress of the Republic

Guatemala is a country with a total population of about 15 million people, from Mayan, Mestizo, Xinca and Garifuna peoples, governed by a Creole political-economic elite, for almost two centuries.

It is a country where more than 10 million people live in poverty, and child malnutrition affects an average of 7 out of every 10 children under the age of five.

In contrast to this reality of misery, Guatemala has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about 70 billion dollars which makes it the “richest country in all of Central America”, including other countries in the continent such as Bolivia. But, the wealth is immorally monopolized by a dozen families that are constituted in a kind of caste.

In addition to this extravagant contrast, Guatemala has and maintains the most expensive government in Central America and in many countries of the region.

Its President of the Republic receives a total of approximately 18 thousand dollars a month! In the Presidential House, an average of more than 4 thousand dollars is spent on food every day! The vast majority of families do not even have the equivalent of 2 dollars for their daily sustenance. But, this is Guatemala.

While all of this lacerating bicentennial inequality had already been compounded by the still unknown impacts of the pandemic, the Congress of the Republic, made up of 160 deputies from different parties, including the left, has just tightened the stranglehold on the impoverished and undernourished people of Guatemala.

The General Budget of the Nation for 2021, approved without debate by the Congress of the Republic, in recent days, not only increased by almost 25%, but also suppressed the very limited budget for social programs such as “Zero Hunger” which addressed, to some extent, child malnutrition. It greatly increases, without explanation, the budget of the Congress of the Republic, the PARLACEN, among others.

The most outrageous thing for Guatemalans, which even makes the same caste uncomfortable, is that this budget is projected to cover more public debt.

The country barely collects the equivalent of 50% of its 2021 budget from taxes and tariffs. The rest is projected to be covered by international donations and more public debt. At the moment, each Guatemalan is born with an average public debt equivalent to 1300 dollars (about Q.10 thousand).

How much does each Congressman cost Guatemala?

Guatemala not only has the most expensive President in the region, but also its deputies are among the most expensive in the continent.

Each Congressman with his team costs the people of Guatemala the average equivalent of $27 dollars per month (Q.202 thousand). The Congress of the impoverished Republic of Guatemala costs no less than an average of $4,320,000 per month (Q. 32.4 million). With the 2021 budget approved, this amount will rise even higher.

Is it not immoral, anti-Christian, that a deputy should squander so much money in a country whose immediate future is annulled by child malnutrition and unpayable debts? Why don’t the few “leftist deputies” renounce the infernal waste of expenses for advisors? In a country as impoverished as Guatemala you can’t squander Q.200,000 per month on anything! That is immoral, inhumane. It is criminal! The deputies, like the President of the Republic, with these and other actions, constitute the lethal internal enemies of the peoples of Guatemala.

Consequently, popular resistance, repudiation, civil disobedience is what is minimally appropriate in a country whose democracy is designed to starve the peoples. A process of Plurinational Constituent Assembly is urgently needed to rethink Guatemala.

Translation by Internationalist 360°