Protests Surge Through Columbia Upon News Of Tax Reform

Diana Becerra, Staff Writer

Since April 28, 2021, there have been many protests in Columbia, consisting of thousands of Colombians from various cities. Which started because of the tax reform that Columbian President Iván Duque proposed.

The reform proposed is known as Sustainable Social Transformation Reform. This reform is seeking to raise taxes for the state, whose people were already dealing with hard blows from COVID-19. This led the people to protest to a government which didn’t seem to care about their pleas. The President’s Sustainable Social Transformation Reform sought to raise taxes for the state by about $6.3 billion.  According to Televisa News, a Spanish news source, “Para 2022, quienes ganaran más de 13 millones de pesos mensuales (unos 656 dólares) declararían impuesto de renta y esta medida se extendería, para 2023, hacia aquellos que reciben una cifra superior a 470 dólares, es decir, 9,520 pesos mexicanos.”

In English, Televisa News states that by 2022, those who earn more than 13 million pesos a month(about 656 dollars) would declare income tax. This measure would then be extended in 2023 to those who received a salary more than 470 dollars(around 9,000 pesos). This led to discontent since the monthly minimum wage is $248(around 5,000 pesos).

Although the President took back the proposal, there was already mistrust between the people and the government. Consequently, the anger between the two parties has only kept growing. The people felt inequal, and wanted the government to do something about the unemployment in Columbia, which is another reason Colombians were protesting.  According to Independent,  on May 1, the President Iván Duque got military assistance to disperse protesters. 

The military has joined police since Duque on May 1 signed off on armed forces’ involvement until “the acts of serious alteration of public order cease. That allows mayors to request the army’s presence in urban areas–a move questioned by human right observers.”

International observers have called on Duque’s government to respect human rights, and their right to protest. Protesters have said that security forces have been very violent, and the government is stigmatizing protesters. The protests, which have been going on for more than a week, have reported around 25 people killed and hundreds injured. Human rights organizations, contrarily, say that the death toll is much higher than what is publicly stated.

Protests were said to have policemen firing tear gas and rubber bullets, as mentioned by a CNN article: “According to Temblores, a Colombian NGO tracking alleged police abuses, there have been over 1,800 cases of police violence since the marches began on April 28, along with numerous incidents of policemen firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters that have gone viral on social media. The data is based on a compilation of media reports. Officers of the Colombian National Police were involved in the death of at least 11 protesters in the last seven days, according to the country’s interior minister Daniel Palacios, who told CNN that at least three arrest warrants have been issued for officers involved in the deaths.”

Colombia’s ongoing protests have brought many thoughts and opinions. Jesus Del Rio, a junior at Cam High, said, “I think they had the right to protest but it went a bit to far. Both sides had unsettled conflict going on, different point of views,  but nobody deserves to feel fear when it comes to fighting for something they deem a necessary change. Fear was installed in the people protesting due to the protest becoming violent and police involvement.”