Special forces at Guatemala protest cause fury


People march to demand the resignation of Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales in Guatemala City on Wednesday.

ReutersGUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) — Guatemala deployed members of the feared Kaibil special forces unit on Wednesday to stop protesters from interrupting a session of parliament, triggering anger among opposition leaders who say President Jimmy Morales is using the military to cow critics.

The deployment of thousands of police and soldiers was the latest example of Morales resorting to displays of military strength since he announced the shuttering of a U.N.-backed anti-graft commission late last month.

That move, and his subsequent barring from Guatemala of the head of the commission, have triggered global criticism and mounting street protests across the Central American nation.

Many Guatemalans have been sensitive to the use of military for internal security and political purposes since the country’s 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996, and successive military governments in the 1970s and 1980s.

“There is free expression of thought in Guatemala ... but freedom does not mean to hit, abuse, break or stain,” Morales said to applause from his allies in a speech to mark Independence Day in Congress.

“I repeat my call for peace, for unity,” he said, as Kaibil soldiers in red berets bearing semi-automatic weapons formed a cordon around the building.Speech

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