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World What is Happening in Colombia? Protests Against Iván Duque Márquez Explained

17:30  04 may  2021
17:30  04 may  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

Explainer: Bloody protests in Colombia leave at least 26 dead

  Explainer: Bloody protests in Colombia leave at least 26 dead Protests have raged on in Colombia for 10 days that have left at least 26 dead, hundreds injured and dozens missing. Demonstrations erupted in Bogota, Medellin, Cali and other cities on April 28 decrying President Iván Duque's proposed tax hike that critics say would raise the price of food and taxes for more middle-class workers. The plan was meant to unburden the government from the COVID-19 pandemic's financial strain, The Associated Press reported.

At least 19 people have died and hundreds more have been injured in protests in Colombia against right-wing President Iván Duque Márquez's tax overhaul, which was intended to aid economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

a group of people walking down the street: Taxi drivers protest against a tax reform bill launched by President Ivan Duque, in Bogota on May 3, 2021. At least 19 people have died and hundreds more have been injured in protests in Colombia against Duque’s tax overhaul. © Juan Barreto/Getty Taxi drivers protest against a tax reform bill launched by President Ivan Duque, in Bogota on May 3, 2021. At least 19 people have died and hundreds more have been injured in protests in Colombia against Duque’s tax overhaul.

Although Duque said the objective of the reforms—aimed at raising the equivalent of 1.4 percent of GDP, or $4.1 billion— were to stabilize the country's economy, the plan has been criticized for favoring the wealthy and placing more strain on the working and middle classes.

Colombia's bloody protests could be a warning to the region

  Colombia's bloody protests could be a warning to the region Tensions have hardly dissipated in Colombia after President Ivan Duque withdrew a controversial fiscal reform proposal this weekend. Six days of protests had seen at least 19 people killed and hundreds injured. Now, the demonstrations have evolved into a broader popular show of anger. © Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images Demonstrators and police clash at a protest against he tax reform bill in Bogota. Thousands of people are still taking to the streets to protest against police brutality and the economic cost of the pandemic amid Colombia's extreme inequality.

Many are frustrated by new or expanded taxes on citizens and business owners and the elimination of many tax exemptions, such as those on certain sales of everyday goods.

The protests have drawn tens of thousands of people to the street, and the marches across the country have evolved into protests against economic inequality and rising poverty in the Latin American country.

The protests began last Wednesday after a national strike drew larger crowds than expected. By Monday, at least 18 civilians and one police officer had died, according to the office of Colombia's human rights ombudsman.

Some NGOs have accused the police of firing at civilians. Most of the violence has occurred in the country's third largest city Cali, in western Colombia, where at least four deaths were recorded, according to Human Rights Watch. The police officer was killed in Soacha, a town on the edge of the capital Bogota, according to the rights ombudsman.

Colombia's protests, explained

  Colombia's protests, explained More than a week of violent protests across Colombia have seen least 25 people killed and hundreds injured, prompting statements of concern from the US government and the European Union. © JOSEP LAGO/AFP/AFP via Getty Images Colombian citizens demonstrate against President Ivan Duque's government in Barcelona, on May 5, 2021. Fueled by frustration over Covid-19's crushing economic pain and exacerbated by a heavy-handed police response, the upheaval has reached 247 cities and towns, according to Colombia Interior Minister Daniel Palacios. Here's what you need to know.

Duque has criticized the protesters for demonstrating during Colombia's second wave of COVID-19. On Monday, the country reported 11,599 new cases and 687 deaths, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University.

At least 540 police officers have been hurt during the protests, according to national police, who also identified nearly 17,000 people who have not been complying with COVID public health measures, by not wearing masks for example.

Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla, the architect of the controversial tax reforms, tendered his resignation on Monday evening, after spending most of the day in meetings with Duque. The Colombian peso fell the most among the major currencies following the move.

In a bid to quell the unrest, on Sunday, Duque ordered the proposal to be withdrawn from congress where it was being debated. He said his government would present an alternative draft law soon. But Duque's right-wing Democratic Center party has less than 20 percent of the seats in congress and may struggle to pass a new law.

Colombian finance minister quits, markets down after tax reform withdrawn

  Colombian finance minister quits, markets down after tax reform withdrawn Colombian finance minister quits, markets down after tax reform withdrawnBOGOTA (Reuters) -Colombia's finance minister resigned and the country's currency, bonds and stock markets fell on Monday after President Ivan Duque withdrew a tax reform proposal seen as important for fiscal stability.

In an address to the nation, Duque urged congress to quickly put together a new plan "and thus avoid financial uncertainty."

"The reform is not a whim. The reform is a must," he said.

Defense Minister Diego Molano blamed the violence on leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents and members of the National Liberation Army (ELN), another left-wing militia.

The FARC signed a peace deal with the government in 2016 ending more than a half century of conflict, leaving the ELN as the last recognized guerrilla group in the country.

Unlike many other Latin American countries, Colombia has a relatively stable economy, and hasn't defaulted on its debt since the 1930s.

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