WASHINGTON (WDVM) — All through downtown Washington Thursday, the primary sound for several blocks was the beeping of forklifts unloading more fencing.
Two blocks from the White House, a group of uniformed National Guard troops emerged from a tour bus and headed into a hotel as a state of lockdown descended on Washington that will last through the January 20 inauguration. The number of National Guard troops coming to Washington to assist law enforcement with security has grown to about 26,000, officials said Thursday.
Much of this is in response to the insurgence at the Capitol building last Wednesday, which left two officers dead: one from injuries sustained from rioters and another by suicide. A protester was also shot to death by a Capitol Police officer.
Joseph Olmo and Rebecca Burnett spent the week following the riots interviewing people from around the world to hear their thoughts. Anibal Samayoa, an elected representative in the congress of Guatemala, said watching the events unfold was like déjà vu.
Back in November of 2020, the congress of Guatemala was stormed by protestors. Some turned to violence. Now, although problems in the U.S. differ from Guatemala’s, one aspect remains constant: at the center of conflict lies a deep national division that Samayoa says can’t be mended with a violent protest.
“People died in the United States,” he told Olmo. That doesn’t resolve anything. These were people who worked — fathers and mothers — they didn’t have to die. Democracies don’t ask for martyrs. They ask for leaders.”
The tensions in Guatemala have since simmered and lawmakers are making leeway on legislation that was once nothing more than a roadblock. “What does all of this say about us? There’s so much more of us that want to build a strong country than those who want to tear it down. And the U.S. is the same way — there’s so many more Americans who want compromise over division.”
In Bogota, Columbia, Sebastian Puerto told Olmo that he was surprised with the amount of media coverage. “News organizations couldn’t believe that something like that would happen in a developed country,” he said. “The whole day they were focused on the Capitol. Even the day after, it was the top story throughout the day.”
When 28-year-old Ahmet Sagit woke up to the news on December 7, he was reminded of attempted coups in his own country, like the deadly attempt in 2016 that injured over 2,000 and killed over 300. “Even though in Turkey we are OK with these problems but I didn’t expect this in the United States happening like that.”
Beirut’s Amanda Zerik says she couldn’t believe the news. “Things like that can happen in countries in the third world, from where I come, not in America. It’s a very bad example and I think it will take lots of time to remove these images from the people’s minds. It’s going to take, I think, years and years to forget what happened.”
29-year-old Juan Ariel Pommier has a unique perspective. He’s lived in Paris, France for the last two years, but he was born and raised in Bolivia. “As a Latin person I have the perspective that this cannot be surprising. But it’s surprising to happen in the United States.”
“You can’t deny that Trump has a lot of popularity,” Pommier said. “He may have lost the popular votes, he may have lost the state votes by the Electoral College, but at the end of the day there are 70 million people who voted for him so I think that’s a very considerable number.”
Birmingham’s Kate Wilford says, up until recently, President Trump had some popularity in the U.K. “I was shocked at the fact that, not only had people managed to breach the Capitol virtually unchallenged, but also I was more shocked at the fact that they were able to leave virtually unchallenged.”
“At the minute over here the whole election debate has been seen as quite a joke, if I’m completely honest,” she said. “I think there’s a lot less respect for Trump than there was at the start — because there was some at the start — and I think that’s dwindled over the last four years, specifically over the last couple of weeks. I think people found it quite funny in a shocking way if that makes sense.”