Right-wing President Pérez Molina claimed that several soldiers fired shots “into the air” and, backed up by the ministers of the interior and defence, accused a private security agent of shooting at the demonstrators.
On Friday Oct. 5, seven soldiers put at the disposal of the legal system said they had fired their guns in the air.
But on Monday, after meeting with foreign diplomats to explain what happened in Totonicapán, the president said he would respect the result of the investigation by the public prosecutor’s office and urged the protesters to engage in dialogue and not to hold further demonstrations.Civil society groups, UN personnel, the ambassador's from around the world have called on the Guatemalan government to get to the bottom of last week's shootings that killed eight indigenous protesters.It's clear that government soldiers should not have been assisting in dislocating the protesters. They don't have the training for that activity and they shouldn't have been put in that situation even if it turns out that a private security guard shot first (that's another problem).
Now there needs to be a thorough investigation into last week's events, and prosecutions and dismissals if necessary. However, the military's use of lethal force against nonviolent protesters is not an isolated event. Guatemala, and the international community, need to provide the country's police with the needed skills to resolve protests nonviolently. At the same time, the government and business community needs to redouble its efforts to attack the source of the problems - racism, inequality, exclusion, poverty, etc.