The government prefers them quiet, but they protest against corruption

Four days after commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on November 21 the Guatemalan government incurred in a demonstration of violence by repressing adult women and men, young people and the elderly, they came out to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the proposal for the approval of the general budget of State expenditures for next year, approved in the Congress of the Republic. The march had taken place in a peaceful manner, but was dissolved by the National Civil Police (PNC) using tear gas and excessive violence; dozens of people were arrested, including several women. For them, we write this note, to express our rejection of the violence exercised that day, especially against women. Some of the names of the victims,

Melissa Mencos, a young 29-year-old documentarian and correspondent for the Guatemalan Audiovisual and Cinematography Association (Agacine), was arrested while documenting and carrying out her work during the protests, she was captured and dragged by agents of the (PNC), acting with total violence against her. Another professional, among the lawyer Ingrid Medina was detained during the demonstration for no reason between struggles and confusion, she mentioned: You cannot take me, I am in my right to demonstarate!

In addition to them, Eimy Fernanda Calderon, 23 years old, Claudia Evelin Salguero, 49 years old social worker, Mavely Lourdes Salguero, 28 years old, Roxana Abigail Coronado, 51 years old, were also apprehended. The women were taken to Towers of Courts of Justice, the Public Ministry accused them of the crimes of attack, illegal meetings and demonstrations, depredation of cultural property and public disorder. The judge decided to declare the detainees lack of merit; However, 22-year-old Ana Paulina Estrada still has an open case for alleged disturbance of public order. María José Sinay López and Mariana Carolina Sinay, both minors (17 and 16 years old) were also captured.

The actions that these government agencies took against the protesters cause concern, outrage and repudiation since their human rights, integrity and freedom were violated. In Article 35 of the Constitution of the Republic it says that free expression is a “constitutional right that may not be restricted by any law or governmental provision”, Article 33 of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala establishes “The right to peaceful assembly without arms is recognized. The rights of assembly and public demonstration cannot be restricted, diminished or restricted and the law will regulate them with the sole purpose of guaranteeing public order ”. Said article mentions “they cannot be restricted, diminished or curtailed” which contradicts the statements of the Minister of the Interior when he was questioned by the une bench stating – I act in accordance with the law.

Nathalie Andrea Duarte Castañeda and Ana Rebeca Guillén Alcahé were detained by the police in Quetzaltenango. As in Guatemala, the marches passed peacefully but as night fell, a group of people went to the governor’s office threatening to burn down the place. The tear gas bombs were swift, and amid the commotion, both were stopped by the police. These actions only threaten women’s right to demonstrate, and prevent them from future participation by intimidating them and threatening their physical and psychological integrity.

We firmly condemn and reject these acts of violence against women, the repression only represents a desperate, arbitrary and illegal response. By responding in this way, the right of expression and public demonstration is prohibited, so we demand that the Government of Guatemala ratify its commitment to face any type of violence against women and any Guatemalan citizen regardless of race, creed , political and philosophical position. There are many types of violence that women suffer in Guatemala, so it is not fair that the State, far from supporting them, becomes a threat to them.