Colombia’s president withdrawing tax reforms after mass protests
Colombian President Ivan Duque has said he is withdrawing a contentious tax reform proposal after thousands of protesters took to the streets across the South American nation for several days to denounce the measures.
In a video on Sunday, Duque said he would ask 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”.
The proposed reforms, which the right-wing government had insisted were vital to stabilising Colombia’s finances, maintaining its credit rating and funding social programmes, has drawn widespread public anger and protests.
The plan included new or expanded taxes on citizens and business owners, as well as the levelling of sales tax on utilities and some food.
But many working-class Colombians, already struggling under a coronavirus-related economic downturn, said the reforms would hit them too hard.
“We’re here to say ‘no’ to the tax reforms,” Sol Martinez, a teacher, told Al Jazeera during a protest in the capital, Bogota, on Wednesday. “They’re robbing us poor people, while they give everything to the rich.”
Human Rights Watch said it had confirmed six deaths related to the protests. “I reiterate my urgent call for the protest to be peaceful and for the security forces to respect human rights,” Jose Miguel Vivanco, executive director of HRW’s Americas division, tweeted.
Duque had said on Friday that the contentious reform would be revised, but that it could not be withdrawn in its entirety.
The right-wing president’s announcement on Sunday “is a major win for the protesters” that also “shows just how weak the government of Ivan Duque is at this point”, Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reported from Bogota.
Rampietti said Duque had run out of room to manoeuver and had grown politically isolated…..read more
Source: Al Jazeera