News/Op-Ed: Colombia’s New Tax Reform Proposal Arouses Citizens, Leading Them To Civil Protesting
by Joaquin Medrano, Managing Editor
On April 28th, 2021, Colombian citizens decided to protest against a new tax reform influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, which angered the Colombian government, leading to a massacre of innocent citizens at the hands of the police.
With financial struggles and one of the longest lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Colombia was in dire need of financial reform. However, many citizens, especially those of the working class, opposed the bill, as they were the ones to get the heaviest taxation rates as well as being affected by the pandemic.
The reform was meant to increase taxes across the country, as the pandemic completely devastated the economy and healthcare systems were failing. Funds were going to the welfare program created to benefit citizens during the pandemic called “Ingreso Solidario,” but funds were taken at the expense of the working-class.
Many working-class people were not happy with the Colombian government, as the president, Iván Duque Márquez is a member of the elite, whose political party’s focus is benefiting the elite. With an already weak reputation, President Duque decided to withdraw the reform, however, protests continued as citizens were angered to see how their president made false promises.
According to The Economist, President Duque started his political term campaigning to make the country a safer place, however, after he took power, crime rates seem to have skyrocketed. Furthermore, armed groups have seemed to increase, driving rural people away from their homes, with no formal agreements between them and the government for crime to stop.
Many people in Colombia decided to look at efforts in other countries, such as the “ACAB” movement in the US after police brutality events, in order to see how others dealt with similar situations. Many even began to support several activism movements in other countries, sympathizing with the pain of other countries.
Even though events in the US caused devastating deaths in different cities at the hands of police officers, the deaths in Colombia due to police brutality add to hundreds in a few days. Colombia has suffered one of the most heinous acts of police brutality, having several dead, majority of which are college students.
Like many governments in Latin America, Colombia fell victim to easy access to corruption, allowing armed forces to terrorize civilians. In one more act of political strategy, citizens are no longer trying to stay oppressed by their leaders. Instead, they have decided to take their rights in use and protest against those who want to keep them down.
Compared to the BLM protests last year, the protests in Colombia in efforts of a fight for freedom are worrisome. Although the National Guard was present in many of the protests last summer, there were no incidents of guards killing civilians as it is in Colombia.
With the pandemic not getting any better and low rates of vaccination among Colombians, the economic situation in the country is looking extremely devastating. Thousands of people will be in even more danger than they were before any sign of protesting.
However, the acts of civilians taking their voices to the streets of Colombia are a sign that no matter how much they have to endure, political corruption and broken leadership are not something they will tolerate. Many even left to wonder if Colombia could ever rise in the aftermath of the pandemic, only hoping for a miracle to save them.