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Colombian president withdraws tax reforms after mass protests | New protests

The tax reforms of right-wing President Ivan Duque spread public anger and protests throughout Colombia.

Colombian President Ivan Duque has said he is withdrawing his controversial tax reform proposal, denouncing thousands of protesters across the South American nation over several days of measures.

In a video on Sunday, Duque said he would ask Congress to “withdraw the law proposed by the finance ministry and urgently process a new law that is the fruit of consensus to avoid financial uncertainty.”

The right-wing government stressed that reforms were essential to stabilize Colombia’s finances, maintain its credit rating, and fund social programs, spreading public outrage and protests.

The plan included new or expanded taxes on citizens and business owners, as well as a tax equalization on the sale of public services and certain food items.

Colombian President Ivan Duque announces the withdrawal of a tax reform bill in Bogota, Colombia, on May 2 [Colombia Presidency/Handout via Reuters]

But many working-class Colombians, who were already struggling with the economic downturn associated with coronavirus, said the reforms would play a hard part.

“We are here to say no to tax reforms,” said Professor Sol Martinez. said Al Jazeera in protest in the capital, Bogota, on Wednesday. “Bad people are stealing from us while giving everything to the rich.”

Although they have been protesting for days across Colombia, causing many deaths, the Duke said on Friday that conflict reform would be reviewed, but that it could not be withdrawn in its entirety.

The announcement by the right-wing president on Sunday “is a great victory for the protesters” which “shows how weak the government of Ivan Duque is at the moment,” Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reported from Bogota.

Rampietti said the Duke had run out of space to maneuver and remained politically isolated.

“This reform was opposed by the MPs and parties that make up the governing coalition, as well as within his party. So really, I don’t think he had many other options except for the final withdrawal of this reform,” he said.

Demonstrators take part in a protest against tax reform in Bogota, Colombia, on May 1 [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]

Lawmakers, unions and other groups took the announcement as a victory. In some neighborhoods the celebratory casseroles were heard, with people chanting pots and pans in the usual protest.

“It is the youth, social organizations and mobilized citizens who have seen the deaths and defeated the government,” left-wing senator Ivan Cepeda said on Twitter. “The government should not present the same reform with make-up. Citizens will not accept tricks. ”

However, the Duke said on Sunday that tax reform is necessary.

He said political parties, local officials, business people and civil society groups have come up with valuable ideas in recent days.

There is a consensus on the need for provisional taxes on companies and dividends, an increase in income tax for the richest and most profound measures to reduce the state, Duque said.

“It’s time for us all to work together without evil,” he said.

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