- At least 19 people were killed during protests across Colombia, in which tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets to demonstrate against an unpopular tax overhaul.
- The dead include a ninth grader; an artist shot in the head as cameras rolled; and a teenager whose mother’s anguished cries have gone viral online.
- The protests have continued even after President Iván Duque announced that he would withdraw the current tax proposal, in part, because of anger over what several human rights groups have called a heavy-handed state response.
“BOGOTÁ, Colombia — The dead include a ninth grader who went out to protest with his brother; an artist shot in the head as cameras rolled; and a teenager whose mother’s anguished cries of grief — “son, I want to be with you!” — have been shared thousands of times online.
At least 19 people were killed and hundreds more injured during days of protests across Colombia, in which tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets to demonstrate against a tax overhaul meant to fill a pandemic-related fiscal hole.
On Sunday, President Iván Duque announced that he would withdraw the current proposal, and instead seek a new plan, this time borne out of consensus. “The reform is not a whim,” he said. “The reform is a necessity.”
On Monday, the country’s finance minister said he would resign.
But the decisions have done little to quell public anger, and the protests have morphed into a national outcry over rising poverty, unemployment and inequality set off by the arrival of the coronavirus last year.
Latin America, and South America in particular, has been especially pummeled by the virus, and many countries in the region face dire fiscal conditions if reforms are not made.
Mr. Duque was among the first to try to address his country’s economic problems, and the public response here does not bode well for other regional leaders, said Sergio Guzmán, the director of Colombia Risk Analysis, a consultancy.
“This is one of those moments where a key break in society is happening,” he said. “And people are fed up and waking up to the power of the streets…”
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