Photo: Guatemala protest
Businessmen and drivers in Guatemala’s intercity bus sector on Thursday demanded that the authorities provide greater security for them.
Hundreds of transport workers participated in a peaceful march in the capital that initially was also attended by Congress speaker Aristides Crespo and several other lawmakers.
The president of the Gretexpa transit association, Itiel Ordoñez, told reporters that their main demand was security due to the attacks and extortion attempts to which they are subjected.
“Every day we suffer extortion and many drivers are murdered,” said the businessman.
According to government investigations, transport businessmen in general pay some 180 million quetzals ($23.1 million) per year to extortion rackets.
“No more extortion or murders of drivers and assistants” was the slogan written on the signs carried by some of the more than 3,000 transport company owners, drivers and other workers participating in the march.
Ordoñez said that the demonstration was also staged to demand that Congress modify one article of a law approved earlier this year.
That article says that the owner of the vehicle or his legal representative will be held criminally liable for a deadly traffic accident if the driver flees.
The businessman asked Congress to eliminate that criminal responsibility and seek other mechanisms to implement the law.
In that regard, speaker Crespo promised to consider the possibility of revising the article.
Lawmaker Luis Fernandez, with the governing rightist Patriot Party, said that the law was approved to benefit bus passengers because whenever an accident occurs and passengers die, the relatives of the victims do not know to whom they should assign responsibility.
During 2013, 816 people died in traffic accidents in Guatemala, according to the Traffic Directorate.