BOGOTA, May 8, 2021, KRON/AP. At least 24 people killed, more than 800 injured and 89 missing. What’s happening in Colombia? Demonstrations began in Colombia on April 28 to protest against a tax reform proposed by its president Iván Duque that would have squeezed the middle class, Kron24 reported.
The tax reform sought to raise taxes by about $6.7 billion to pay the country’s debts and maintain a basic income scheme for 3 million low-income people that started during the pandemic.
The president’s administration withdrew it four days later, but the protests continued — and grew.
A policeman was among the many killed.
Initially led by unions and supported by college students and social organizations, protesters turned out in more than half of Colombia’s municipalities, sometimes erecting roadblocks that officials say have led to food shortages, prevented vaccine deliveries and blocked ambulances.
The response by security forces, heavily armed from decades of battling drug traffickers and guerrillas, is being scrutinized by human rights observers.
The Attorney General’s Office and the agency responsible for monitoring human rights compliance reported Thursday that 26 people were killed in protests, including a police officer, and more than 800 injured. They did not specify the number of slayings in which police have been involved. Previously, the agencies alleged police involvement in a dozen.
The United Nations human rights office said it was “deeply alarmed” over the violence against protesters.
In its statement, the UN urged Colombia’s government to protect the rights of protesters.
“Law enforcement officers should abide by the principles of legality, precaution and necessity of proportionality,” the statement said.
Celebrities and other public figures have been raising awareness of what is happening in Colombia.
Latin artist J Balvin, who is from Colombia, has been constantly posting about the violence happening in his country.
Colombian singer Karol G has also posted many videos, photos and information about the protests.
She tweeted at President Duque directly, begging him to listen to the people.
“My soul and heart are with my country with the hope that the fight, the voice and blood that has been spilled will echo and make a change,” she wrote. “@IvanDuque The country that you see destroyed today is the same country that one day trusted you and elected you as president. LISTEN TO YOUR PEOPLE!”
Both reggaetón stars have repeatedly tried to get the world’s attention and are pleading for international help.
And although not completely aware of what exactly is going on, Justin Bieber also raised awareness on his Instagram page.
“Not exactly sure of the ins and outs of what is going on but can clearly see that there is chaos in Colombia right now! Keep the people of Colombia in your prayers,” he wrote.
— Jessica González-Rojas (@votejgr) May 8, 2021
The Associated Press contributed to this report.