MOISES CASTILLO, Associated Press
October 05, 2012
TOTONICAPAN, Guatemala — Thousands of indigenous Guatemalans shouted in anger Friday and some threw themselves at the coffins of six local people who were shot to death during a protest over electricity prices and educational reform in a poor rural area.
President Otto Perez Molina acknowledged that government forces had opened fire during the protest Thursday, after saying earlier that police and troops on the scene had been unarmed and the protesters had provoked the clash.
Human rights groups condemned the government’s actions and charged they were part of a pattern of excessive use of force against protesters.
The protesters were blockading a highway near the town of Totonicapan, about 90 miles west of Guatemala City, when two vehicles carrying soldiers arrived to help police who had been ordered to evict the demonstrators. Gunfire erupted after the troops came. Bullets killed six people and wounded 34, officials said.
“We were protesting right next to them when they opened fire on us,” said Rolando Carrillo, a 25-year-old protester with a bandaged arm and lacerated face that he said resulted from being hit during the clash.
[A wounded man sits on the ground during clashes with peasants protesting against the cost of electricity in Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, west of Guatemala City on Thursday Oct. 4, 2012. At least two people have been killed and dozen others seriously wounded in the confrontation between protesters and security forces. (AP Photo)] Continue reading