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Around 26 people have died and more than 900 have been injured in protests over tax reforms proposed by Colombia’s president, which were meant to rescue the economy and aid the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Colombia recently saw several days of protests following a tax reform plan proposed by its president, Iván Duque Márquez.
- So far the protests have resulted in more than 26 deaths and triggered enormous political unrest within the country.
- Colombians began to protest on April 28, 2021, following the revelation of the president’s tax reform agenda.
- Around 26 people have died and more than 900 have been injured in protests over the proposed tax reforms, which were meant to rescue the economy and aid the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Although Márquez said the objective of the reforms was aimed at helping to rejuvenate the economy, the plan has been criticized by Colombians as favoring the wealthy.
- The tax reform plan also included new taxes on businesses and citizens as well as on the sale of food and some utilities.
- Colombia’s working class allege that the agenda would further drain them financially after the pandemic had already done so to a significant degree.
- The protests have seen thousands pour into the streets over issues of economic inequality and rising poverty levels in the country.
- After pressure brought by the protests and opposition in the legislature, the president announced he would withdraw his proposed tax reform. “I am asking Congress to withdraw the law proposed by the finance ministry and urgently process a new law that is the fruit of consensus in order to avoid financial uncertainty," he said.
- Many Colombians regarded the announcement as a victory.
What did the tax plan propose?
- The tax plan, known as the Sustainable Social Transformation Reform, was intended to raise revenue for the state by about US$6.3 billion.
- Colombia’s gross domestic product (GDP) dropped by 6.8% last year and the pandemic has further driven up the country’s unemployment rate.
- According to reports, the proposed reforms would have lowered the threshold of taxed salaries, affecting anyone with a monthly income of US$656 or more.
- Márquez is pushing for about US$6 billion in tax increases to balance the budget and pay for emergency food handouts and other social programs.
- Social media has been flooded with pictures and videos of police officers using excessive force on protesters.
- The United Nations has urged Colombia’s government to defend the fundamental rights of its protesters and has advised the police against using unnecessary force on citizens.
- Colombia’s president has blamed drug trafficking criminals for vandalism caused over the course of the protests. He has also promised that there will be an open dialogue between the protesters and the government moving forward.
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