July 25, 2021


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At least 70 people arrested in latest wave of protests in Colombia | News of the protests

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The protests marked the end of a weeks-long hiatus in tax, police and poverty unrest.

At least 70 people were arrested in the last round anti-government protests in Colombia, police say.

Authorities said on Wednesday, a day after Colombians took to the streets again in protests that began in April against a tax hike since abandoned. The protests turned into a larger movement against the right-wing administration of President Ivan Duque.

Tuesday’s protest against the government’s presentation to parliament of a new, softer tax proposal marked the end of a several weeks break during protests, which sparked crackdowns that observers said killed at least 60 people.

The government estimates the death toll at around a third of that, and the United Nations has called for an independent investigation into the killings.

Authorities said 50 people – 24 civilians and 26 officers – were injured in the cities of Bogota, Medellin and Cali during clashes between riot police and protesters.

While the government has said the latest round of protests were largely peaceful, officials have repeatedly accused armed groups of infiltrating the protests.

Those arrested on Tuesday faced charges including blocking public roads, damaging property, throwing dangerous objects or substances and possessing firearms.

Police reform, fight against poverty

Protesters also demanded an end to police repression and more favorable public policies to mitigate the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 40 percent of the country’s 50 million people today live in poverty.

On Wednesday, the government presented lawmakers with a bill to reform the police, accused of abuses against civilian protesters.

It offers better training for officers and sanctions for those who do not identify themselves during arrests or who refuse to be filmed in the course of their duties.

But he is not proposing to remove the police from the control of the Ministry of National Defense, as demanded by the demonstrators.

Police officials said the police must remain in the military to combat violence, drug trafficking and smuggling.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, among other groups, condemned Colombia’s “disproportionate” and “deadly” response to the protests and also recommended separating police operations from the military.

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