Colombia Withdraws Controversial Tax Reform Bill After Deadly Mass Protests

Colombia’s President, Iván Duque, announced on May 2 that he would withdraw a controversial proposed tax reform after four days of deadly mass protests and widespread political opposition across the country.

“I am asking Congress to withdraw the law proposed by the finance ministry and urgently process a new law that is the fruit of consensus, in order to avoid financial uncertainty,” Duque said in a televised statement.

“It is a moment for the protection of the most vulnerable, an invitation to build and not to hate and destroy. It is a moment for all of us to work together without paltriness,” Duque further said, announcing that there would be no increase in taxes for goods and services.

Although, Duque said that a reform was still necessary for financial stability.

Duque had said that an increase in tax was necessary due to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The South American country’s gross domestic product decreased by 6.8% last year and its unemployment rate rose due to the pandemic.

The proposed bill would have lowered the threshold on taxing salaries, which would then affect Colombians who have a monthly income of $656 and above.

Tens of thousands of Colombians, including indigenous citizens, gathered to protest the bill, saying that they were already struggling to feed their families due to the pandemic.

“It is the youth, social organizations, and mobilized citizens who have seen deaths and defeated the government,” leftist Senator Ivan Cepeda stated on Twitter.

“May the government not present the same reform with make-up. The citizens won’t accept tricks,” Cepeda further stated.

Ombudsman Carlos Camargo said six have died during the protests.

Human Rights Watch also confirmed the same number of deaths and alleged police abuse.

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