Anti-government protesters take to the streets again in Colombia

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Thousands of Colombians took to the streets again on Tuesday to protest against the government of President Ivan Duque and demand that parliament begin a new era of reform, social justice and an end to police repression.

“I hope that the parliament will finally legislate in the interests of all the Colombian people, not just the few who get rich,” Ivan Tsaparo, a 46-year-old dentist, told AFP amid a rally in Bogota, the capital.

«We fight to claim recognition of our rights to health, education, non-violence“, Added Noelia Castro, a 30-year-old teacher.

The National Strike Committee, which spearheaded the protests that began in late April but did not represent all components of the movement, called for mass protests to resume after a month-long suspension.

The participants in the rallies demand more social justice, reforms in the police, which is accused of barbaric suppression of the mobilizations, a more solidary state in the face of the economic and social impact of the new coronavirus pandemic. 42% of Colombians’ 50 million people are now living in poverty.

“You can not be indifferent to the injustice, to the fact that they kill students because they are protesting, to the fact that they are attacked as if they were terrorists,” said Janet Gomes, a 59-year-old teacher.

Comprised of students, indigenous organizations, trade unions and social collectives, the Commission had decided to suspend the demonstrations on 15 June. Several weeks of talks with the government had no effect.

The commission’s demands “will be presented to parliament as the government refused to negotiate,” Fabio Arias, a union leader, told W.

Law enforcement forces blocked access to the seats of the presidency and parliament.

The previous, The government has announced the deployment of 65,000 troops and police in anticipation of the protests, which are said to have been infiltrated by rebels of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels. officially the last organization which continues the armed struggle in the Andean state.

More than 60 people have been killed and several thousands injured since April 28, according to the ombudsman’s office, an independent public authority responsible for protecting human rights.

The government of Ivan Duce, in power since 2018, has faced several waves of controversy. What began in late April was sparked by a plan to increase VAT and expand the tax base, which was quickly withdrawn.

Yesterday, Tuesday, the president of the right, with 76% popularity, inaugurated the new parliamentary term that he wants to promote a new tax reform.

«We hear the voices in the streets and they should feed the dialogue, but you are called by history to become the representatives of a country that is being transformed“, he said.

With the new reform, from which the government removed the elements that caused the biggest wars, the government wants to put $ 3.9 billion into public coffers.

The previous plan was to increase tax revenue by $ 6.3 billion. He was the trigger for Colombian anger and forced former Finance Minister Alberto Caraschilla to resign.

The police reform plan announced by Ivan Duce in mid-June is also expected to be debated in parliament. But it is considered inadequate by the protesters, who in particular are demanding that the police stop reporting to the Ministry of Defense.

The forthcoming parliamentary elections in Colombia will be held in March and the presidential in May 2022.

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