Colombians Rally against Tax Reform as Protest Wave Continues

Protesta en Colombia.  Photo: Sergio Acero/colprensa/dpa

HAVANA TIMES – Colombians streamed into Bogota’s central Bolivar Square on Monday to demonstrate against tax reform legislation up for debate in Congress as the country’s protest wave went into its 26th day, reported dpa news.

Demonstrators banged pots, waved flags and displayed placards reading: “No to the tax reform.”

The protesters say the reform would provide massive tax breaks to big companies and force the government to cut social spending.

The protests started with nationwide marches called by trade unions and civil society groups on November 21 that brought an estimated 250,000 people to the streets.

Smaller protests, including two other nationwide march days, have been staged since then.

Demonstrators say the government will lower the minimum wage for young employees and raise pension payments and the retirement age, though President Ivan Duque has denied having such plans.

The protests also oppose a funding shortage for education, killings of community leaders by armed groups and demand the dismantling of the riot police ESMAD, which has been accused of serious abuses during the unrest.

Young demonstrator Dilan Cruz died from his injuries after having been hit in the head by a bean bag fired by the ESMAD on November 23.

Another protest-related incident saw riot police force a demonstrating woman into an unmarked car before releasing her. Police said she had been arrested for blocking traffic and that it was not illegal for the ESMAD to use unmarked cars.

Government representatives have met with the strike committee several times without reaching an agreement.

The committee insists on launching formal negotiations, while the government says it first wants to clarify the demands that the protesters want to discuss.

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