Sunday, 5 February, 2023

Guatemala protesters demand president resign over vaccine shortage

Guatemala protesters demand president resign over vaccine shortage

Dozens of Guatemalans protested Saturday in the capital to demand the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei, holding him responsible for a lack of Covid-19 vaccines.

“We are protesting for him [Giammattei] to resign and to tell us where the money for the vaccines is,” Karla Perez, a 48-year-old woman who held up a banner at the demonstration, told AFP.

“Vaccines go in the arm, not in the pockets,” said the banner, displayed during the protest held in front of the National Palace, the former seat of government, which was guarded by a large contingent of police.

Since February, 658,200 vaccine doses have arrived in Guatemala, some purchased and some donated. The country has a population of more than 16 million.

For the protesters, the numbers reflect mismanagement and fuel suspicions of corruption.

“The government has been very non-transparent with the use of the money. There is total incompetence over public administration,” said Jorge Bucaro, leader of the Association of University Students (AEU) of the University of San Carlos, the country’s only public university.

Giammattei, a 65-year-old physician, has argued that the lack of vaccines is due to high global demand and has criticized the Covax global vaccine-sharing scheme for the delay in deliveries.

Since March of last year, the Central American country has recorded 233,696 cases of Covid-19 and 7,695 deaths.