Anti-government protests rages through Colombia for 8th day

Anti-government protests have been raging throughout Colombia for the eighth consecutive day, as rights groups remain to raise concerns about extreme brutality by security forces.

Police in riot gear attacked a rally on Wednesday at around 15:00 (20:00 GMT), removing hundreds of protesters by truck.

But protesters said they would continue to take to the streets despite right-wing president Ivan Duque withdrawing the controversial tax reform that led them to protest in the first place last week.

“Yes, they withdrew the reform, but they did not change it,” said 48-year-old emerald union worker Olga Cabos, who participated in the second nationwide strike since April 28 in central Bogota.

“We can not allow this government of Duque to continue to make things more difficult for the poorest of us,” she media, waving an anti-government poster.

The protests were caused by an unpopular tax-reform aimed, according to the government, at stabilizing an economy devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. But Colombian workers and the middle class have said the plan benefits the rich while putting more pressure on them.

Duque withdrew the plan on Sunday, and his finance minister quit a day later, but demonstrators are now asking for a withdrawal of proposed health reform and a supported basic income of one million pesos ($ 260) for all Colombian residents.

“Although the tax reform was the first spark, the current protests in Colombia reflect a wide range of social, political and economic causes that the Duque administration will find difficult to deal with existing texts for national dialogue,” said Arlene Tickner, a political science professor at Rosario University in Bogota.