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Protests against the government’s tax reform plan have left nearly 20 people dead in five days in Colombia, where the finance minister resigned on Monday.

The violence that marked the recent protests against tax reform in Colombia have left nearly twenty dead and more than 800 injured, and the Minister of Finance resigned Monday, May 3 in the face of a mobilization that does not seem to weaken.

“My retention in government would make it difficult to quickly and effectively build the necessary consensus” to carry out a new reform proposal, said Alberto Carrasquilla, who had been Minister of Finance and Public Credit since President Ivan came to power. Duque in August 2018.

The Head of State announced on Sunday the withdrawal of this project to develop a new one, after five days of protest which ended in the death of 18 civilians and a police officer, according to the Defender of the People, a public body of protection of rights.

The army as reinforcements

The Ministry of Defense for its part reported 846 wounded, including 306 civilians. In addition, 431 people were arrested during the unrest which since April 28 has punctuated some demonstrations, although most have been peaceful.

While the government has deployed the army as reinforcements in the most affected towns, several NGOs have accused the police of firing at civilians.

For his part, the Minister of Defense, Diego Molano, said that the violent incidents were “premeditated, organized and financed by dissident groups of the Farc”, who rejected the peace agreement signed in 2016 by the former Marxist guerrillas, as well as by the National Liberation Army (ELN), considered the last rebellion in Colombia. He also denounced the damage caused to 313 commercial establishments, 94 banks, 69 public transport stations, 36 ATMs and 14 road tolls.

Reform withdrawn

Under the pressure of the demonstrations, massive on April 28 and which were repeated over the following days with varying magnitude depending on the city, the conservative president announced on Sunday the withdrawal of the tax reform, under consideration in parliament. He said he would present a new text, excluding the most contested points, including an increase in VAT on goods and services, as well as the broadening of the tax base on income.

The initial draft drew strong criticism, with the opposition, unions and even ruling party representatives believing it too affected the middle class and deeming it inappropriate as the pandemic exacerbated the economic crisis.

Despite the announced withdrawal, several hundred demonstrators again took to the streets of Bogota, Medellin (northwest), Cali (southwest) and Barranquilla (north) on Monday.

The National Strike Committee, at the origin of the initial mobilization, called for demonstrations again on Wednesday, although most major cities are under travel restrictions, the country going through a third wave of Covid-contagion. 19 with more than 2.9 million cases to date, including more than 75,000 deaths.

With AFP

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