Since April 28, in the streets of Colombia there have been demonstrations triggered by the tax reform of President Iván Duque.
Faced with the pressure of the protests, the Government has decided to withdraw the proposal and call for dialogue with the different sectors of Colombian society, in an attempt to achieve a consensual reform.
However, the massive mobilizations are a reflection of a broader discontent with the Duque Executive.
With its tax proposal, the government aimed to raise the equivalent of 2% of GDP in a series of new taxes to ease debt pressures and preserve the credit rating. Duque always tried to underline the social components of the reform, which also included a basic income. His initiative was defended by economic analysts who considered it ambitious and necessary, but it turned out to be inopportune. Especially in a year prior to the presidential and legislative elections of 2022. In a survey, 82% of those consulted answered that they would not vote for the candidates who supported the tax increase.
Although the reform was the trigger for the protests, in the background there is enormous social discontent that increased in the pandemic.
Colombia suffered a 6.8% drop in its GDP in 2020, the largest in records.
Unemployment closed the year at 15.9% and monetary poverty climbed to 42.5%, according to the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE).
These are the latest key news to understand what is happening in Colombia:
Iván Duque proposes a tax increase to cover the fiscal gap of the pandemic in Colombia
. To face the economic crisis derived from the pandemic, the Colombian government proposed the third tax reform since Duque assumed the presidency in 2018 and the first in a Latin American country since the coronavirus disrupted the political and economic agendas of the region. The so-called Sustainable Solidarity Law increased the basket of goods subject to VAT from 39% to 43%, according to the Ministry of Finance. It also gradually increased the base of taxpayers who must pay rent, including people who earned from 2.5 million Colombian pesos (about $ 700) per month.
The tax reform reactivates the mobilizations in Colombia at the peak of the pandemic
On April 28, in the middle of the third wave of the pandemic, social protests against the tax reform broke out in Colombia.
The so-called “national strike” that had put the government on the ropes at the end of 2019 was reactivated with massive marches, blockades, sporadic clashes with the police and some riots.
Protesters welcome the buses that arrive with indigenous people from the department of Cauca to join the days of protests against the tax reform, on May 1 in Cali.Ernesto Guzmán Jr / EFE
The president of Colombia takes the military out to the streets to contain protests against the tax reform
. The intensity of the demonstrations in various Colombian cities has escalated and the protests have had more follow-up than expected. On Saturday, May 1, there were incidents between police officers and protesters in the main cities of the country. In Cali, at least 10 homicides were recorded, according to the police. Duque then decided to take the military out onto the streets in an attempt to show that the situation was under control, but that decision heightened tensions.
Duque gives in to protests and withdraws Colombia's tax reform
On Sunday, May 2, Iván Duque decides to backtrack on his tax reform proposal.
"I ask the Congress of the Republic to withdraw the project filed by the Ministry of Finance and urgently process a new project as a result of consensus and thus avoid financial uncertainty," said the president.
A day later, the Minister of Finance, Alberto Carrasquilla, who had drawn up the controversial reform, resigned.
Editorial: Colombia: Duque backs down
Police violence is out of control in Colombia
On Tuesday, May 4, Colombia experienced another day of violence that alerted international organizations.
The EU and the UN condemned the “disproportionate” use of force in the demonstrations.
One of the most shocking images was that of armored cars and helicopters dispersing the crowd with tear gas and detonations of weapons in Cali.
At that time, different organizations indicated that there were at least 19 dead, 87 missing and more than 800 injured in the country.
The president deployed the army to contain the acts of violence, but it has not been successful.
On the contrary, it has raised the tension.
The Government's response has been to redouble troops.IVÁN VALENCIA
Police harassment of women protesting in Colombia: "If this is how the marchers are, how nice to gas them
As of May 4, according to the NGO Temblores, which documents the abuse of authority, there had been a dozen cases of sexual violence by the security forces during the protests in Colombia.
Most of the acts of police abuse against women have occurred at night and near police stations.
Images: Colombia Submerged in Protests and Police Abuse
The repression of the protests seals the divorce of Duque with the young people
After a week of protests, the balance is 24 dead, according to the Ombudsman's Office, almost all of them young.
It is they who are in the front line of the anti-government marches that in some cases have ended in violent confrontations with the security forces.
In a recent survey by the consulting firm Cifras y Conceptos, 74% of those consulted between 18 and 25 years had an unfavorable image of the president.
Tribune: Colombia needs a different cooperation
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