BOGOTÁ, Colombia – The dead include a ninth grade student who went out to protest with his brother. An artist was shot in the head as the camera rotates; And the teenager whose mother cried in grief – “Baby, I want to be with you!” – has been shared thousands of times online.
At least 19 people were killed and hundreds more injured during days of protests across Colombia, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against a tax overhaul to fill in the fiscal loophole. Related to the epidemic
On Sunday, President Iván Duque announced that he would withdraw the current proposal and find a new plan instead, this time based on a consensus. “Reform is not a intention,” he said.
On Monday, the country’s finance minister said he would resign.
But such decisions have been made little to quell public anger and protests have turned into national outcry over poverty, unemployment and inequality escalating with the arrival of the coronavirus as Last year
Latin America and South America, in particular, were particularly affected by the virus, and many countries in the region faced dire fiscal conditions without reforms.
Duque was among the first to try to address the economic problems in his country, and the public response here did not bode well for leaders in other regions, said Sergio Guzmán, Colombia’s director of risk analysis. consult
“This is one of those moments where a lot of social events happen,” he says, “and people get bored and awake to the power of the streets.
The protests have continued, in part, because of anger at what many human rights groups have called the heavy state retaliation trying to control them.
Several videos of police harassment have been recorded in recent days, including a case of young protesters kicking a police officer on a motorbike. The video showed officers responding by shooting at protesters as he ran away.
The protester was Marcelo Agredo, 17, a 9th grade student who went on a march with his brother. He died shortly thereafter, according to his father, Armando Agredo.The death was confirmed by the country’s ombudsman, a government agency investigating human rights abuses.
“You don’t kick your life,” said Agredo, 62, a retired taxi driver. “We want justice.”
Amid this anger, the country’s former president, Álvaro Uribe, took to Twitter to say that Colombians should support “the right of soldiers and police to use weapons to defend themselves” against “terrorism”.
The social media site removed the message shortly after it said it violated the “inciting violence” rules.
Uribe’s political adviser Duque soon sent troops into the streets to quell the unrest.
The protests began on Wednesday and by Monday at least 18 civilians and another police officer named Jesus Solano were killed, according to the country’s ombudsman. Among the deaths were 86-year-old Jesse Flores, who died “evident from inhalation of gas”.
At least 540 national police were injured during the march, while more than 100 buses were destroyed or burned. Police said they also identified nearly 17,000 people who did not comply with public health measures such as wearing masks.
The protests come as the country is experiencing the deadliest time of the epidemic, according to the New York Times database that tracks deaths and infection.
Mr Guzmán, of Colombia’s risk analysis, said there was a widespread agreement that fiscal reforms were needed to keep the country free. But the government waited too long to dismiss the unpopular tax proposal, letting the anger, frustration and indignation simmering over the past year.
“Now there’s more to it about the way the government has run the country for two and a half years, it’s about shutting down the country, it’s a popular dissatisfaction,” he said.
Colombia’s economy shrank 7 percent last year, while poverty rose from about 36 percent to nearly 43 percent of the population, according to figures released last week.
The tax proposal would bring on some daily tax hikes while maintaining an outbreak of cash subsidies aimed at helping struggling people.
Finally, many in the streets said they saw But the tax hike – and the government they feel doesn’t meet their needs.
“They drive us hungry,” said Natalia Arévalo, 29, a Bogota protester. Clothing seller Ms Arévalo said last week that the new blockade, meant to contain the virus spread, had significantly reduced sales. “Now they want to pick up the little things we have left.”
Some of the biggest protests took place in Cali, Colombia’s third largest city. On Sunday, young artist Nicolás Guerrero was one of hundreds gathered in the north of town. Suddenly the picture rang.
The grainy video, which was streamed live and watched by many, showed shouting and confusion.
Juan Gómez, a 27-year-old lawyer, was there and watched as Mr Guerrero bleed at his feet.
“It’s terrible,” said Mr. Gomez. “I’ve never seen anyone die before my eyes.”
“There is no proportion,” he said of the use of force on the streets. “It doesn’t make sense.”
He spoke on the phone on Monday. He was furious enough, saying he planned to head back into the street that day.
Sofía Villamil contributed reporting.