BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 12, 2023
Prime Minister John Briceño has vowed that his government is prepared to implement measures aimed at the reduction of fuel prices locally, should the political unrest in Guatemala and the war in Israel lead to any more increases in the prices of fuel at the pumps.
On Tuesday, October 10th, the Prime Minister told Amandala, “We will monitor the acquisition cost of fuel closely, and if we have to reduce the tax on it, we will do so.”
The Prime Minister also revealed that, apart from being fully cognizant of the surge in oil prices on the international market, his government is also looking at, and following the situation in Guatemala very closely.
“We do have the hope that things will work out and that the will of the people will be respected,” reiterated the Prime Minister.
Even as Guatemala enters its second week of protests leading to the blockage of major roads and ports, paralyzing traffic in some areas, the Prime Minister said that he does not foresee any disruption in oil tankers coming into Belize, and as such he is not expecting any fuel shortage in the upcoming weeks.
Protesters in Guatemala have been demanding the resignation of Attorney General Consuelo Porras, whose department has alleged voter fraud, and the peaceful turnover of power to President-elect Bernardo Arevalo who won the presidential election by a landslide in August.
The previously peaceful mass-protest intensified on Monday with riots and escalating violence where masked men threw stones and broke windows at a demonstration outside the National Palace of Culture in Guatemala City. Other reports say that masked men also instigated violence, intimidated pedestrians, and set multiple fires at grocery stores and other buildings. The uproar in violence caused the Guatemalan Police to disburse tear gas into the crowd. Reports are also indicating that the protest has the potential of getting more violent in the upcoming days due to infiltration by violent masked groups who have been showing up at the various locations instigating violence and then quietly dispersing.
The protests have grounded commercial activities to a standstill leading to a shortage of food and fuel in some municipalities. International reports say that the prices of food have also shot upwards in some municipalities where scarcity has been recorded. This situation is growing more dire each day as more roads leading to Guatemala City, and even to neighboring Melchor, are being blocked off with vehicles, and flag-waving protesters.
Apart from several businesses closing their doors in solidarity with the protesters, people are camping out at the airport due to a shortage of not only aviation fuel but flights being suspended for the interim. Schools have also been closed down, electricity cut off, and ATMs have been running out of cash, leaving citizens in a dire situation.
Over the weekend, local media in Melchor de Mencos, Guatemala reported that they had joined in the protest and had blocked off vehicle traffic to and from Melchor. Tourists on Social media were also reporting that they were having a hard time getting from Flores, Peten, Guatemala to Belize due to public transportation suspending their services.