Riots in Colombia in protest against tax increase

Following a call from the largest trade unions, thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in Colombia. Throughout the country last night, the call to protest against a controversial proposal for tax reform was responded to. It led to riots in the big cities, with the police using tear gas.

Banks and other buildings were stormed and statues pulled from their pedestal. In the capital of Bogota, protesters stormed the building of the independent television channel RCN and destroyed it. According to the mayor, 31 people were injured, including protesters and police officers.

In Cali the army was deployed and a curfew was set from 01.00 in the morning after buses were set on fire. According to the government, 40 people were arrested for vandalism and 42 policemen were injured.

Images of the storming of TV station RCN:

The president of the largest trade union, the Central Union of Workers CUT, urged President Duque to stop the tax reform from taking place.

The bill states that the tax will be increased for citizens and businesses and that many exceptions that exist now will be removed. In this way, the government wants to save nearly EUR 5 billion, equivalent to 2% of gross domestic product.

A top finance officer said that could be reduced to the EUR 4 billion to get the law through parliament. The government also wants to increase VAT. The reforms would be necessary to ensure the financial position of the country.

No understanding of violence

The president said on television that he understands that there is a demonstration, but that he finds it unacceptable to use so much violence. Since the end of 2019, there has been regular demonstrations against his policy.

The protests continued despite an order from the judge to postpone them because of the coronavirus. The number of coronadodes in the country has risen to a record number of almost 500 per day and ICs are occupied for more than 90%.

Trade union leaders called on the people to demonstrate today and announced new protests before 19 May.