Colombia protests continue after government withdraws tax reform

Colombia’s finance minister has resigned, but experts say public anger goes beyond the widely-decried tax proposal.

By  Steven Grattan

Women shout slogans during a demonstration against the Colombian government’s proposed tax reform, in Bogota, on May 1 [Fernando Vergara/AP Photo]
San Jose Del Guaviare, Colombia – Violent protests continue around Colombia as unions make more demands of the right-wing government of President Ivan Duque following his withdrawal of a proposed tax reform that sparked widespread public anger.

The government said the tax reform aimed to stabilise a country economically ravished by the coronavirus pandemic, but the working and middle classes said the plan favoured the rich while placing more pressure on them.

An array of new or expanded taxes on citizens and business owners and a reduction and elimination on many tax exemptions, such as those on product sales, angered many.

Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla submitted his resignation on Monday evening, after spending most of the day in meetings with Duque. “My continuance in the government will complicate the quick and effective construction of the necessary consensus,” Carrasquilla said in a ministry statement, as reported by the Reuters news agency.

But experts say demonstrations are expected to go on. Alicia Gomez, a 51-year-old cleaner who supports the protests, told Al Jazeera that Colombians are tired of the government “putting more taxes” on the population, which is already struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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