Alejandro Giammattei was sworn into his four-year term as Guatemala’s president on Tuesday. The controversial right-wing leader addressed corruption and poverty in his first speech as president, but news of the start of his tenure was buried by that of protests.
Giammattei offered support to those injured and detained at protests demanding the arrest of his successor, Jimmy Morales, according to Prensa Libre.
“The time has come for Guatemala to not be identified as a violent country,” Giammattei reportedly said in his first speech as leader of the Central American country.
Frank Sinatra’s My Way, a song forever ruined for the millions who watched President Donald Trump’s inaugural first dance, played in the background as Giammattei was sworn in.
The Vamos party candidate ran on a platform of anti-corruption and claims he will present Congress with “a law that would allow for the prosecution and sentencing [of gangs] as what they are: terrorist groups.”
Though big on progress in terms of poverty and better care for Indigenous communities, Giammetti also approves things like the death penalty and increased militarization. His election is largely seen as being in line with a conservative shift throughout Latin America.
“A series of protests are starting today,” a mother on the ground told CNN on Sunday, hoping to make it clear that this is just the beginning. “The goal is for this government to [fall] and for the rectification of the justice system in Guatemala.”
She was right. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets on Tuesday in an attempt to prevent Morales from getting away without so much as a slap to the wrist. Morales, who was elected on an anti-corruption platform as well, had years of alleged financial violations and later unlawfully banned a United Nations-backed investigation into his government. Unfortunately, Morales slyly and swiftly got sworn into Central American Parliament at midnight, once again obtaining immunity from prosecution.
Several protesters were detained in this week’s protests, and there were at least six reported injuries.
This follows months of consistent protesting in Guatemala fueled by frustration with government corruption, a controversial asylum deal, rise in gang violence and more.
“Corresponding authorities will investigate this case to determine the responsibility of those who acted against the protesters,” President Giammattei said.