Guatemalans jammed onto the capital’s streets Saturday to voice anger over corruption that permeates the government, demanding jail time for the guilty and calling for President Otto Perez Molina to resign.
The protest march, which converged on the city’s main square outside the National Palace, was organized through social media without any discernible leadership. But it drew support from a wide range of sectors in the Central American nation, including business leaders, academics, student groups, farmers, churches and human rights advocates.
Businessman Geovanni Vasquez said he joined in the demonstration because he and many other Guatemalans feel “indignant at the great corruption committed by government officials.”
Marches were also called in other parts of the country to demand that the president step down, with many people blaming him for the graft. Perez Molina has denied any involvement and said corruption must be fought.
The latest scandal involves what prosecutors allege was a multimillion-dollar scheme in which bribes were paid to avoid customs duties on imports.
Vice President Roxana Baldetti was forced to resign a week ago amid an uproar over her private secretary being singled out by authorities as the alleged ringleader of the scheme. Baldetti has not been charged and denies playing any part in the scheme.
At least 50 private citizens and public servants, including Guatemala’s current and former tax chiefs, are suspects in the customs scandal.