Guatemala’s president steps up security in visit to congress

September 12, 2018
1 of 10

Police take position around Guatemalan Congress during a protest against the government of President Jimmy Morales, in Guatemala City, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. President Morales had announced that he would not renew the U.N.-backed commission investigating corruption in the country for another two-year mandate, giving the commission until the end of its current term in September 2019 to transfer all its functions to Guatemalan institutions. The banner atop the doorway reads in Spanish "Quit now. Clean up congress." (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — A visit to Guatemala’s congress by President Jimmy Morales has been accompanied by a massive security deployment amid protests.

Thousands of police and at least 50 heavily-armed soldiers set a security cordon around the congress that greatly exceeded normal.

About 8,000 protesters had been calling for Morales’ resignation, expressing discontent over his decision not to renew the mandate of a United Nation’s-backed anti-corruption commission. The commission was investigating alleged campaign violations by Morales.

A day earlier, protesters confronted some government officials, which may have led to the tightened security Wednesday. Faced with the stronger security, protesters decided to move elsewhere.

Gilder Guzman, leader of Guatemala’s largest farmworker organization, says the government’s response was exaggerated, as protests were peaceful and this constitutes an abuse of power.

Update hourly