Despite requests from the authorities not to call a national strike on Wednesday (28), Colombians took to the streets to protest a tax reform presented by center-right president Iván Duque. Several towns had built-up areas and clashes with the police took place in Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla and Cali.
The marches, called by unions from different sectors, began in the morning and were to last 48 hours.
Protesters call for not raising taxes and creating more social protection for workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Since 2019, the Duke’s government has attempted to implement tax reform in the country – at that time there were intense conflicts on the streets of the country.
Speaking mid-afternoon, Bogotá’s center-left mayor Claudia López said the protests should be stopped at 8 p.m. (10 p.m. in São Paulo), when the curfew goes into effect. .
“During the morning we had a lot of roadblocks and traffic obstructions. Hopefully everyone understands that it is necessary to go home and comply with the restriction measures.” This Tuesday (27), López tried, unsuccessfully, to demote protesters from taking to the streets due to the pandemic and suggested that the protest be conducted in another way.
The president, whose stance on security is tougher, posted a first photo that showed him with security force chiefs saying they would be vigilant throughout the day if there was a need to intervene. “With the government team and the top of the national police, we analyzed the situation. I gave instructions to the police to guarantee public order and the safety of citizens.”
In recent weeks, Colombia has entered what local epidemiologists see as a third wave of the pandemic, with new high cases and deaths from the disease. On Tuesday, the country recorded a moving average of 17,254 cases, close to the 17,857 recorded on January 20, at the height of the second wave, according to data from Our World in Data.
Since the start of the health crisis, the country has added 2,787,303 infections and 71,799 deaths.
In an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, the national government and the city of Bogotá have imposed new lockdowns in several regions. The Colombian capital is in partial lockdown and it is not possible to leave the house on weekends. During the week there is a curfew.
The mayor said on Monday (26) that the city’s ICUs are at 91% of their capacity and called on the population to step up precautionary measures. The new demonstrations planned for the coming weeks are very worrying.
In addition to acts contrary to tax increases, marches are called against the closure of commerce in several cities, such as Medellín. Entrepreneurs and traders want to ease restrictions imposed by the pandemic so that the economy continues to function.