Thu, 24 Jun 2021

Colombia has been rocked by a month of bloody street protests in which dozens have died. Anger at a proposal to raise taxes on the middle class has morphed into a major anti-government movement.

A timeline:

Thousands protest

Tens of thousands of people marched on 28 April against a tax reform they say will leave them poorer as the country battles its deadliest phase of the pandemic.

Right-wing president Ivan Duque's government wants to tax those earning more than $656 a month, lowering the threshold from $1 000 to broaden the tax base.

Two days later, troops are sent out to patrol the streets of Cali, Colombia's third-biggest city and the epicenter of the unrest.

President axes plan

Duque gives in to pressure from the streets and says he will scrap his plans to lower the tax threshold and increase value-added tax on goods and services.

But tens of thousands of Colombians take to the streets for a fourth straight day.

Duque says he will use "military assistance" to combat "those who through violence, vandalism and terrorism seek to intimidate society."

19 dead in five days

On 3 May, the country's ombudsman says that in five days of protests, at least 18 civilians and one police officer have died while 846 people were injured.

Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla resigns.

Demonstrations continue.

International condemnation

On 4 May, the United Nations and the European Union condemn what they say is the excessive force used by the security forces.

Protesters blocking roads delay petrol deliveries, and concern rises over oxygen and medical supplies needed to treat people with Covid-19.

As the crisis deepens, the president backs the security forces.

In Bogota, 16 police stations are attacked.

On 5 May, demonstrators rally against the Duque government's policies on health, education and security, in addition to protesting violence by the security forces. Police prevent a group from entering Congress.

Rocky start to talks

The following day, the government invites protest leaders to talks, but they call for fresh demonstrations.

Foreign Minister Claudia Blum resigns on the 13th.

Two days later, violent protests erupt in Popayan in the southwest of the country after a 17-year-old girl commits suicide in police custody.

Copa withdrawn

On 20 May, the CONMEBOL federation drops Colombia as co-host of the 2021 Copa America, the continent's largest football competition, citing "reasons relating to the international calendar and logistics of the tournament."

On 23 May, Pope Francis urges "serious dialogue" and defends the right to peaceful protest in Colombia.

Army to Cali

Duque announces 28 May he is deploying troops in Cali as clashes leave at least 13 people dead.

On 30 May, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet calls for an independent inquiry into the violence.

Talks resume

The same day, Colombia's government resumes talks with demonstrators as the official toll reaches 59, including two police officers.

Source: News24

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