Hundreds of public school teachers on Thursday blocked at least 14 highways in the Guatemalan interior as a pressure tactic to demand that the congress approve the government's request to boost funding for the Education Ministry.
The blockades "were agreed to by the provincial secretariats" of the Teachers Union and could continue until lawmakers accede to their demands, union chief Joviel Acevedo told reporters.
The protests, which also include the closing of the main access points to the Guatemalan capital, were launched Thursday morning and police said that thousands of travelers, commuters and transport workers were affected.
The teachers blamed the government for the negative effects their protests will have on students, given that they claim it is the lawmakers' fault that they don't have "the necessary resources to provide classes."
Since last week, President Otto Perez Molina's administration has been seeking to convince the legislature to appropriate $187.5 million to deliver on promised pay hikes for teachers and healthcare workers.
The government needs the votes of at least 80 of the 158 members of Congress to get the budget increase approved and, legislative sources say, it currently has the support of only 50 lawmakers.
The congress refused in late 2013 to approve Perez Molina's 2014 budget, which effectively limited government spending to last year's level. EFE