Colombia Protest – At least 19 dead and 800 wounded in Tax Reform Protests
Colombia Protest – At least 19 dead and 800 wounded in Tax Reform Protests. Protesters in Colombia called Monday for a new mass rally after 19 people died and more than 800 were wounded in clashes during five days of demonstrations against a proposed government tax reform.
Faced with the unrest, the government of President Iván Duque on Sunday ordered the tax reform proposal be withdrawn from Congress, where it was being debated.
And on Monday, Colombia’s finance minister Alberto Carrasquilla resigned, saying in a statement his continued presence “would make it difficult to build the necessary consensus quickly and efficiently” for a new reform proposal. He was quickly replaced by economist Jose Manuel Restrepo, previously commerce minister.
The office of Colombia’s human rights ombudsman said 18 civilians and a police officer died in violence during the protests that began throughout the country on April 28, while 846 people, including 306 civilians, were injured.
Authorities have detained 431 people, and the government deployed the military in the worst-affected cities. Some NGOs accused police of firing at civilians.
Despite the withdrawal of the bill, which protesters said would make Colombia poorer in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, an umbrella group known as the National Strike Committee called for new demonstrations on Wednesday.
“The people in the streets are demanding much more than the withdrawal of the tax reform,” it said in a statement.
Despite that, dozens of people were out on the streets anew Monday, protesting in the capital Bogotá, the northwestern city of Medellín, Cali in the southwest and Barranquilla in the north.
Defence Minister Diego Molano claimed the violence was “premeditated, organized, financed by FARC dissidents” and members of the ELN.
FARC – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – leftist rebels signed a peace deal with the government in 2016 to end more than a half-century of conflict, leaving the ELN (National Liberation Army) as the last operational guerrilla group in the country.
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