Wat is happening in Colombia?

Called by unions, students and social organizations on April 28, several demonstrations began in Colombia to reject a tax reform bill the government of Ivan Duque presented to Congress.

Among the points that caused the most controversy was an increase in the value-added tax on basic foods and on public and funeral services.

The government’s desire to impose an income tax on people earning $311 per month also caused distress.

Despite curfews in several cities due to the coronavirus pandemic, nightly violent clashes have erupted between the Armed Forces and protesters.

On May 2, the NGO Temblores reported that since the start of the national strike, there had been 21 deaths due to the excessive use of force by the police.

The same day, President Duque asked Congress to withdraw the tax reform and asked the Ministry of Finance to arrange a new tax project with the different sectors of the country.

The demonstrations continued due to the social discontent manifested in November 2019 and September 2020 marches, which has grown since then.

On May 3, the Ombudsman’s Office asked to investigate the deaths of 19 people in the framework of the protests.

Transporters and truckers joined the strike, blocking several national highways and access roads to the main cities of the country.

The following day, on May 4, Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla resigned and the president appointed Jose Manuel Restrepo, then minister of commerce, to the position.

The most violent day of the strike was on May 4, when there were 46 injuries in Bogota between police and civilians, more than 100 vandalized buses and around 25 police stations burned, one when the officers were still inside.

On May 5, the Ombudsman’s Office updated its data with 25 people dead and 89 disappeared. For its part, the NGO Tremors assured that there were 37 deaths at the hands of the police and that there have been 1,708 cases of police violence.

The UN, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the US government, among others, have rejected police violence in Colombia and have asked the Colombian government to take action to stop the attacks.

Faced with this, Interior Minister Daniel Palacios assured that the government does not tolerate police abuse or vandalism, while Foreign Minister Claudia Blum affirmed that the Colombian state is committed to the protection of human rights.

Duque is expected to meet with the national strike committee for a dialogue on May 10 on the key demands of the people.

Source: Anadolu Agency