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Protesters Whip Effigy of Guatemalan President and Call for Him to Resign Amid Corruption Scandals

Thousands of outraged Guatemalans took to the streets of the country’s capital on Saturday to call for President Otto Perez Molina to step down.
May 31, 2015, 7:05pm
Photo by Esteban Biba/EPA

Thousands of Guatemalans outraged over recent corruption scandals took to the streets of the country's capital on Saturday to call for President Otto Perez Molina to step down.

The crowd included people from all sectors of Guatemalan society, according to the Associated Press. The demonstrators converged on Constitution Square in Guatemala City carrying banners and signs denouncing the president. Video from the scene shows a woman using a whip to lash an effigy of the president as onlookers cheer and use noisemakers.

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Guatemalan prosecutors and the UN's International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala filed charges in recent weeks in two separate cases against dozens of individuals and government officials allegedly involved in lucrative graft schemes.

Perez Molina's former vice president Roxana Baldetti resigned earlier this month amid a corruption scandal that has already seen at least 24 people arrested, including the country's top tax official. Baldetti was allegedly linked to a ring accused of taking bribes to allow individuals to avoid paying millions of dollars worth of customs taxes. Authorities are still searching for Baldetti's former top aide, Juan Carlos Monzon Rojas, who was the alleged ringleader of the racket.

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In the other case, officials at the Guatemalan Social Security Institute allegedly took bribes in exchange for switching contracts related to the treatment of kidney patients. Several patients died following the change, according to the AP. Sixteen people, including Social Security president Juan de Dios Rodriguez, have been arrested in the case.

Though Perez Molina hasn't personally been accused of any wrongdoing, the involvement of members of his administration in the recent cases has led many Guatemalans to blame him for the corruption.

After an estimated 15,000 anti-corruption protesters flooded the Guatemalan capital's central plaza in late April, Perez Molina promised justice but refused to resign. Elections in the country are currently planned for September.

VICE News' Gabriela Gorbea and the Associated Press contributed to this report.