Tens of thousands of people in Colombia have taken to the streets to protest proposed tax reform legislation on Wednesday.
The proposed reform would decrease the minimum amount of income required to be susceptible to tax. Not limited to that, the new system would remove several tax exemptions and include additional taxable items for individuals and small businesses.
The protests, which have spread across all major cities in Colombia, have gone in defiance of judicial orders calling for the postponement due to Covid-19.
The new tax system comes after one of the worst economic years in recent Colombian history which has been worsened by the current Covid-19 situation and the fact that the government in Bogota already collected some of the lowest percentage of taxes in the region,
“They’re robbing us poor people, while they give everything to the rich.” said an unhappy Spanish teacher to Al-Jazeera. The government insists these measures are necessary in order to mitigate the impact of the current economic crisis.
Protesters seem to have grievances other than the proposed tax reform. Indigenous groups have torn down statues representing spanish conquistadors while other demonstrators have expressed their diminished trust in the government’s ability to protect them from new paramilitary organizations taking control of old FARC areas.
The protests have shown no signs of slowing down with demonstrators in large cities like Bogota and Medellin clashing against riot police on a number of occasions. Attempts by ministers to water down the bill with minor adjustments have been met with coldness by protesters.