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Guatemala: Two Killed in Protest Against US Trade Pact

Tensions are rising in Guatemala Tuesday between the government and social organizations as government troops are reported to have opened fire on demonstrators killing two people in Guatemala's western highlands. Protesters took to the streets for a second day in a row to oppose a free trade accord with the United States.

Just a day after anti-free trade agreement protests erupted in violence - when demonstrators and riot police clashed Monday in Guatemala City - violence has broken out again. Organizers said two protestors have been killed and many more injured in the western province of Huehuetengango.

They say army soldiers fired on the protestors.

Last Thursday, Guatemala's congress ratified a free trade agreement with the United States, known as CAFTA. Guatemala is the third country - after El Salvador and Honduras - to ratify the accord.

An overwhelming majority of the nation's lawmakers voted for the agreement. They say the accord presents the country with opportunities for economic growth.

But labor unions, some smaller political parties, and peasant and indigenous organizations say the accord will only exacerbate poverty and inequality in the region. They have taken to the streets on numerous occasions and in different points around the country to protest the accord.

Daniel Pascual is a peasant leader. He says with the protests last week, this one and the more planned for the future, protestors are demonstrating that there is a strong opposition to the trade agreement. He says, the accord is bad for the Guatemalan people, especially the poor and small farmers.

In addition to more protests, accord opponents said they are planning on challenging the ratification of the accord in the nation's courts.