Totonicapan: Thousands of grieving indigenous Guatemalans shouted in anger on Saturday, some of them hurling themselves at the coffins of six local people slain when gunfire erupted during a protest over electrical power prices and educational reform in a poor rural area west of the capital.
The Guatemala government said protesters were blockading a highway near the town of Totonicapan, about 90 miles west of Guatemala City, when unidentified people opened fire from the back of a truck with civilian license plates, killing six people and wounding 34. Local activists accused soldiers and police of opening fire on the protesters.
The six victims were buried Friday afternoon in Totonicapan, where thousands gathered to watch their coffins pass through the town`s central square. Hundreds shouted "Justice! Justice!" while dozens of mourners from the Cakchiquel hurled themselves toward the coffins in grief.
Thursday`s protest was fueled by anger at President Otto Perez Molina, who has proposed constitutional reforms that he says will modernize Guatemala`s economic and regulatory systems.
Among other changes, the reforms would set price caps on electricity, and require teachers to get a five-year bachelor`s degree instead a three-year vocational degree.
The protesters think the price caps are too high, and object to the longer process for obtaining a degree that many in the subsistence-farming area depend on to improve their livelihoods.
The shooting erupted when two truckloads of soldiers drove up to the protest to help police, who had been ordered to evict the protesters from the highway.