Socialist Worker

Protests in Colombia continue to rock state

Tax rises have forced thousands to take to the streets in defiance of repression, explains Sophie Squire

Issue No. 2755

Thousands of people continue to take the streets despite a wave of repression.

Thousands of people continue to take the streets despite a wave of repression. (Pic: Oxi.Ap/Flickr)

Angry protesters continue to take to the streets in Colombia for the third week in a row despite brutal repression.

Human rights organisations claim there have been over 40 killings by state forces, denying the government figure of 14.

Protests began after right wing President Ivan Duque announced plans to raise taxes on essential items.

Revolt over tax increase in Colombia
Revolt over tax increase in Colombia
  Read More

Trade unions quickly called on people to join the mass protests on 28 April against these plans. Four days later Duque offered price subsidies on some goods to offset the tax rises.

Some protest organisers wanted at this point to declare victory, but this was rejected by student leaders.

The protests have now broadened into opposition against poverty, police violence and the government’s handling of Covid-19.

At the start of the protests, some of the fiercest opposition was found in the country's capital Bogota and the city of Cali. But angry protests have now spread to every corner of the country.

In the city of Popayan, the suicide of a young woman abused at the hands of the police led to fresh waves of anger.

In a social media post posted before her death, the woman wrote that she was walking to a friend's house when the police detained her. She was later picked up by her grandmother covered in bruises.

Upon her death furious protesters clashed with the police, throwing petrol bombs at the city prosecutor's office and burning down a police post.

In the town of Jamundi protesters set fire to the municipal headquarters and in Pereira, activists held actions on a road to demand justice for student Lucas Villa. Villa was shot eight times by the police whilst protesting at the start of the month.

Thousands of students in Bucaramanga fought back against the police armed only with shields made of rubbish bins and umbrellas.

In Cali, protesters constructed blockades that halted the delivery of goods to the city.

Saturday was a day of relative peace for protesters in the city of Bogata as hundreds of protesters gathered at the Los Heroes monument.

Many carried placards reading "no more repression against protests”.

Protests in Colombia are unlikely to end any time soon. They're managing to attract broad sections of society from students to LGBT+ people as well as the indigenous population.

Unions have continued to play an important role in calling protests but more workers must join to deepen the movement. Wider sections of workers calling for more strikes have the power to beat Colombia’s right wing government.

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