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Thousands march in Colombia on the fourth day of protests against the tax plan



Demonstrator sheds tear gas during a protest against the tax reform of the government of President Ivan Duque in Bogota, Colombia, April 30, 2021. REUTERS / Luisa Gonzalez

Thousands of Colombians took to the streets on Saturday to march on International Workers’ Day and protest a proposal for government tax reform on the fourth day of demonstrations that resulted in at least four deaths.

Trade unions and other groups began rallies Wednesday to ask President Ivan Duke’s government to withdraw a reform proposal that initially taxed sales of public services and some food. Read more

Kali, the third largest city in the country, has seen the loudest marches, some looting and at least three deaths related to the demonstrations.

“Losing your life is always a very painful situation and circumstance. Three people were killed during these riots,” Kali Mayor Jorge Ivan Ospina said on social media, asking prosecutors to determine who fired the bullets responsible for the death.

Human rights group Human Rights Watch said it had received reports of possible police abuse in Cali, and local human rights groups said it had received up to 14 deaths.

The national police said they respected human rights and followed established protocols.

Late Friday, a police officer stabbed earlier in the week amid robberies in the town of Soacha, south of the capital Bogota, died from his wounds.

Isolated robberies, vandalism and clashes between police and protesters also took place in Bogota, Medellin and other cities.

The protests continued on Saturday, despite Duque’s announcement late Friday that the reform would be reconsidered and would now not include a tax on sales of food, utilities or petrol or an income tax extension.

Despite calls for withdrawal and opposition from lawmakers, the government insists the reform is vital to stabilizing the country’s finances, maintaining its credit rating and funding social programs.

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