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!!!”
La desolación que vive mi país hoy NO es ALGO de AYER que desató una MARCHA. Es la realidad DIARIA de todos los que viven en los pueblos, llenos de miedo y sin garantías de vida. Reconozco esta situación desde que era una niña.
— 👑🖤✊🏾 Goyo (@GOYOCQT) May 4, 2021
— J BALVIN (@JBALVIN) May 4, 2021
Empatía: “Luchar aunque no te falte nada, porque a algunos les falta todo” #NOALAREFORMATRIBUTARIA
🇨🇴 🇨🇴 🇨🇴 🇨🇴 🇨🇴 🇨🇴 🇨🇴 🇨🇴
— BICHOTA (@karolg) April 28, 2021
Me duele mi país como nunca, sentir que las cosas se salen de control y que el miedo, la rabia y la indignacion paralizan la capacidad de razonar es aterrador. No hemos podido aprender a escucharnos unos a otros, a respetarnos, a mirarnos a los ojos y reconocernos como hermanos.
— Juanes (@juanes) May 4, 2021
"mañana hay un acto importante en Colombia, la marcha nacional entonces quiero enviar toda la energía positiva a mi país porqué estamos siendo testigos de la desigualdad que nuestros políticos están teniendo con la economía" como no amarte si nos sales con esto @KALIUCHIS 🥰🥰🥰 pic.twitter.com/UNaRiSU3zD
— 𝕬𝖟𝖆𝖗𝖔𝖛𝖆 🪐 (@Dubiousbard49) April 28, 2021
— Lido Pimienta (@LidoPimienta) April 28, 2021