At least 19 people died and hundreds more have been injured in protests in Colombia. Citizens were against right-wing President Iván Duque Márquez’s new tax policy. The protest was planned to aid economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
However, Duque said the goal of the reforms—aimed at raising the equivalent of 1.4 percent of GDP, or $4.1 billion— was to settle the country’s economy. The plan has been condemned for supporting the wealthy and placing more stress on the working and middle classes.
People are baffled by new or expanded taxes on citizens and business owners. And, cutting off various tax exemptions, such as those on certain sales of everyday goods.
Because of the protests, thousands of people came on streets. Moreover, marches across the country have grown into protests against economic inequality and surging poverty in the Latin American country.
The uprisings began last Wednesday after a strike covering the nation. Due to this, larger crowds came than expected. By Monday, 19 citizens (18 civilians and 1 policeman) died. This is according to the office of Colombia’s human rights ombudsman.
Some NGOs have denounced the police for firing civilians. Most of the turmoil has occurred in the country’s third-largest city Cali, in western Colombia, where at least four demises were recorded, according to Human Rights Watch. The police officer was killed in Soacha. That is a town on the horizon of the capital Bogota, according to the rights ombudsman.
Duque has derided the protesters for demonstrating amid the second wave of COVID-19. On Monday, the country reported 11,599 new cases and 687 deaths, according to data collected by John Hopkins University.
According to the report, 540 police officers have been hurt during the protests. Moreover, it identified almost 17,000 people who did not follow COVID public health measures. And they didn’t masks and social distancing.
Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla, the creator of the controversial tax reforms, submitted his resignation on Monday evening. He spent most of the day in meetings with Duque and eventually took the decision. The Colombian peso fell the most among the main currencies following the move.
Iván Duque Márquez’s proposal.
In a bid to suppress the unrest, on Sunday, Iván Duque Márquez’s decision of the proposal to be rescinded from Congress where it was being debated. He said his government would present an optional draft law shortly. But Duque’s right-wing Democratic Center party has less than 20 percent of the seats in congress and may fight to pass a new law.
In an address to the nation, Iván Duque Márquez’s conversation with congress to promptly put together a new plan and thus avoid financial uncertainty. The reform is not a whim. The reform is an absolute must, he said.
Defense Minister Diego Molano criticized the violence on leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents. And units of the National Liberation Army, leftist media.
The FARC approved a peace deal with the government in 2016 ending more than a half-century of conflict. This leaving the ELN as the last celebrated guerrilla group in the country.
Colombia has a relatively stable economy, in comparison to the other Latin American countries. And not a debt defaulter since the 1930s.