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

A protester throws a tear gas canister during a protest against the tax reform of President Ivan Duque’s government in Bogota, Colombia, on April 30, 2021. REUTERS / Luisa Gonzalez

Thousands of Colombians took to the streets on Saturday for international Labor Day marches and protests against a fourth-day government tax reform proposal with demonstrations that have resulted in at least four deaths.

Trade unions and other groups began marching on Wednesday to demand that President Ivan Duque’s government withdraw the reform proposal, which originally equalizes the sales tax on public services and some food. Read more

Cali, the country’s third largest city, has seen the loudest marches, some looting and at least three deaths associated with the demonstrations.

“Losing a life is always a very painful situation and circumstance. During these riots, three people died,” Cali Mayor Jorge Ivan Ospina said on social media, asking the attorney general’s office to determine who fired the bullets responsible for the deaths. .

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

National police said it has respected human rights and followed established protocols.

Late on Friday, a police officer died earlier in the week while looting in the town of Soacha, south of the capital Bogota, died of his injuries.

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

Protests continued Saturday despite a Duque announcement late Friday that the reform would be revised and now would not include VAT on food, utilities or petrol or an extension of the income tax.

Despite calls for withdrawal and opposition from lawmakers, the government insists the reform is crucial to stabilizing the country’s economy, maintaining its creditworthiness and funding social programs.

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