J Balvin, Karol G, Kali Uchis & More Latin Artists React to Tax Reform Protests in Colombia

J Balvin
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Spotify

J Balvin speaks onstage during the 2020 Spotify Awards at the Auditorio Nacional on March 5, 2020 in Mexico City, Mexico.

Students and workers in Colombia have taken to the streets to protest a tax reform proposal by President Ivan Duque's government last week.

The proposed tax reform, according to Reuters, “would increase taxes on individuals and businesses and eliminate many exemptions, and was originally meant to raise about $6 billion, equivalent to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP).” The government also suggested expanding items subject to value-added tax.

As a result, peaceful demonstrations began to take place around the country, especially in Bogotá, Cali and Medellín. Protests eventually turned violent, with many police and civilians injured and others arrested for alleged vandalism.

On Sunday, the president publicly announced the withdrawal of the current proposal presented by the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit.

"I have asked Congress to process, urgently, a new initiative resulting from consensus, and with which we avoid financial uncertainty," he tweeted. "In order to protect the most vulnerable and reactivate our country, the consensus allows us to clearly say that there will be no VAT increases for goods and services nor will they change existing rules. Also, no one who does not pay income tax will pay that tax."

However, peaceful protests have turned into national unrest and outcry over poverty, inequality and unemployment due to the pandemic, and according to The New York Times, "at least 19 people were killed" as of Monday.

On social media, a wave of Colombian artists expressed their concerns.

“It hurts me a lot even though I’m not there,” Maluma said in a video. “I don’t agree with the tax reform because it directly affects my family and it affects me,” he said, also disagreeing with the dangerous protests taking place in the South American country. “That’s not the way! There are ways to protest, and the best way is peaceful.”

J Balvin agreed, sharing a photo with the following caption: “I say no to the tax reform and also no to the vandalism of those who take advantage of the demonstrations to hurt, steal or destroy. The priority today must be everyone’s health. We are in a pandemic, we need to save lives!!!”

Shakira, Karol GKali Uchis, Carlos Vives and other famous Colombians also used their platform to raise awareness about the situation back home. See reactions below.