San Jose Del Guaviare, Colombia – Violent protests continue around Colombia as organizations demand more from President Ivan Duque’s right wing government following the removal of the tax changes they want this led to public outrage.
The government’s plan to change taxes is aimed at creating a world plagued by coronavirus, but workers and middle-class officials say the system favors the rich over the pressure on them.
New or additional taxes for citizens and business owners are reduced and deducted from most taxes, such as sales tax, angered many.
Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla announced his resignation on Monday evening, after a long absence from meetings with Duque. “My continued presence in government will hamper the process of speeding up the process,” Carrasquilla told Reuters reporters.
But experts say demonstrations are expected to continue. Alicia Gomez, a 51-year-old cleaner who supports the protests, told Al Jazeera that Colombians are tired of the “high taxes” government, which is already suffering from the COVID-19 epidemic.
“We must continue to fight because if we do not, they will take away our rights completely,” he said.
Duque has previously stated that the change will not be taken away, but will continue protests, deaths and international criticism for violating human rights by anti-police protesters. The president agreed on the Sabbath.
“This is the first time that the government has been shaken by a series of protests,” said Arlene Tickner, a professor of political science at the University of Rosario in Bogota.
“Tax reforms have not been able to be approved by Congress, as well as the instability of the protests and international and international criticism of police brutality, which is also seen as a presidential election.”
In a press conference last month, Carrasquilla was asked about the price of 12 eggs. His impossible answer – he said he was four times cheaper than he is – caused outrage in a country already struggling. economic problems related to coronavirus.
“Minister Carrasquilla should resign because a minister who does not even know the amount of ten eggs is a complete disgrace to us Colombians,” Gomez, who works in Bogota, said before the minister announced his resignation.
But public outcry is not limited to changing taxes; Gimena Sanchez of the Washington Office in Latin America, a tank thinker, told Al Jazeera there is “great dissatisfaction” in the streets.
“Violent oppression [of protests] has exacerbated it and polluted it, ”said Sanchez.
“The popularity of the Duque and the height of the population and their interests as well as the economic downturn due to COVID and restrictions, increased insecurity and interest in promoting peace will lead to this [protests] I’m going. ”
The strike was called off last Wednesday by major unions in the country and protests have been taking place since then in Bogota, Medellin and Cali, between the two cities. Cali has seen major clashes between protesters and police.
On Monday, the National Strike Committee said the protests would continue, with the boycott of the next country scheduled for Wednesday.
“Opponents want more than tax cuts,” Francisco Maltes, president of the Central Union of Workers (CUT), told a news conference.
Agencies want the removal of the hospital to be profitable and to provide $ 260 million for all Colombians, as well as the destruction of cities, the end of police violence and the end of police protests known as ESMAD.
Human rights groups have also criticized the country’s police for violating human rights in recent demonstrations. Al Jazeera has not been able to confirm the number of deaths, as government officials and non-governmental organizations strongly disagree.
Local ombudsman reports that 16 people and one policeman have been killed so far, while Temblores, an NGO that oversees police violence around the world, says 26 protesters have been killed by police and 1,181 cases of police violence have been registered.
“The current state of human rights in Colombia is very important … there is no guarantee of life or security of the opposition,” Sebastian Lanz, Temblores’ director general, told Al Jazeera.
“Human rights organizations are not working,” Lanz said. “We want President Ivan Duque and the police to put an end to these killings here.”
On Monday, Colombia’s national police chief, General Jorge Luis Vargas, said 26 investigations into police misconduct had been opened. The country’s security ministry on Monday condemned the recent “war”.
“Colombia is facing threats from organizations that are resorting to violence,” Diego Molano told a news conference, according to Reuters. Molano did not say how many people died in the recent riots, but said the attorney general’s office was investigating.
The director of Human Rights Watch in the United States, Jose Miguel Vivanco, told Al Jazeera that when the numbers died, “the need to change the police force seemed impossible.”
“Criminal protesters should be investigated, but this is not a cause for violence. Recent events in Colombia raise questions as to whether the police – and its anti-riot police, ESMAD – are competent to control people who respect human rights,” he said.
But while the protests are expected to continue, political analysts question whether the Duque government understands the growing dissatisfaction of Colombian people.
“This started out as a tax change, but now it’s about all kinds of things. We are about to have a big show that I think the government doesn’t understand,” Sergio Guzman, a political analyst who runs the Colombian company Risk Analysis, told Al Jazeera.
Guzman said the government could start a new dialogue in the country, but it seems that the current situation needs to be decided by a new finance minister.
“I think this will give us more clues as to whether or not the government is listening to the people on the street, because if they elect someone from the party we are talking about, they are showing that they think they will solve the problem on their own.”
Tickner, a political scientist, said Duque’s leadership was characterized by a combination of incompetence, arrogance and a reluctance to acknowledge the cause of the embarrassment.
“There is no reason to expect that things will change drastically as he is about a year old from the end of his term,” he said, as the Colombian presidential election is scheduled for May 29 next year.
He added that he did not see an end to the protests at this time. “There is no indication that the government will participate in the actual negotiations required.”