Tax reform bill triggers protests across Colombia

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Several protests against a planned reform that would increase taxes on the wealthy to fund social programmes were held across Colombia on Saturday.

The proposal is being promoted by President Gustavo Petro, the first elected socialist leader of the South American nation.

“Today, we ask the government to take into account the productive sector of the country, to understand that tax reform is not needed in the way they are doing it,” businessman Alvaro Aparicio, 58, told AFP in Bogota.

People protested the measure sponsored by Petro, who entered office in August, on the streets of Cali, Barranquilla, Medellin, and other cities while donning white and waving the national flag.

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The proposal, which would boost taxes on the wealthy to pay for initiatives to combat poverty and inequality, is being discussed in Congress.

The peso has historically devalued versus the dollar, and Colombia is currently experiencing significant inflation, along with other nations throughout the world. The unemployment rate is 10.6%.

Petro ran for office on a platform of taxing the wealthy more heavily, halting oil drilling, and giving arable land to farmers who lack access to it.

In 2019, 2020, and 2021, Ivan Duque, the former right-wing president of Ecuador (2018–2022), faced sizable demonstrations.

The bloodiest incident happened last year when the president at the time attempted to tax the middle class in order to combat the pandemic’s effects.

(With inputs from agencies)

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