BOGOTA (AFP) – Thousands of Colombians rallied nationwide on Saturday against a proposed reform that would raise taxes on the upper classes to pay for social programme.
The legislation is being pushed by President Gustavo Petro, the South American country’s first elected leftist president.
“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. Wearing white and waving the national flag, people also took to the streets in Cali, Barranquilla, Medellin and other cities against the bill pushed by Petro, who took office in August.
Congress is debating the reform, which would raise taxes on the upper classes to finance programmes to fight poverty and inequality.
Meanwhile, Colombia like other countries around the world is enduring high inflation, as well as an historic devaluation of the peso against the dollar. Unemployment stands at 10.6 per cent.
Petro campaigned on a platform of raising taxes on the rich, stopping oil exploration and distributing fertile land among landless farmers.
Former right-wing president Ivan Duque (2018-2022) faced massive protests in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
The bloodiest occurred last year, when the then president tried to tax the middle class to deal with the ravages of the pandemic.
This sparked violent demonstrations that lasted two months and left 46 dead, including civilians and police, according to the United Nations (UN).