Thousands march in Colombia over tax proposals, rising insecurity
Tens of thousands of protesters answered the call of Colombia’s biggest unions to take to the streets over the government’s proposed tax proposals despite a court order to postpone the strike over concerns of an overstretched health system amid a third wave of coronavirus.
Teachers, university students, trade unions, Afro-Colombian and Indigenous groups and many others took part in the protests on Wednesday against tax changes put forward by right-wing President Ivan Duque’s government.
The government has proposed an array of new or expanded taxes on citizens and business owners and also to reduce or eliminate many tax exemptions, such as those on product sales, to help boost an economy severely affected by COVID-19.
But many working- and middle-class people worry the new proposals will hit them too hard.
“We’re here to say ‘no’ to the tax reforms,” 36-year-old Spanish language teacher Sol Martinez told Al Jazeera while holding a sign with the same message written on it. “They’re robbing us poor people, while they give everything to the rich.”
Sol said if the government does not listen to their outrage, the strike will have to continue.
Attendance was high in large cities including Bogotá, Medellin and Cali as well as in other smaller cities around the Andean nation. Cali saw some violent clashes with police from early in the day when a group of Indigenous Misak people tore down a statue of the Spanish coloniser who founded the city.
As rain poured down on protesters and helicopters flew overhead in Bogota’s main public square, riot police fired tear gas at approximately 3pm (20:00 GMT) to disperse crowds. Bogota’s Mayor Claudia Lopez asked protesters to return home and said that public transport would stop operating at 5pm (22:00 GMT) local time.
Over several hours, police made several attempts to disperse people from the streets. There were loud explosions, police sirens and screaming crowds…..read more
Source: Al Jazeera