Thousands march in Colombia in fourth day of protests against tax plan

Unions and other groups kicked off marches on Wednesday to demand the government of President Ivan Duque withdraw the proposal

Thousands of Colombians took tothe streets on Saturday for International Workers’ Day marchesand protests against a government tax reform proposal, in afourth day of demonstrations that have resulted in at least sixdeaths.

Unions and other groups kicked off marches on Wednesday todemand the government of President Ivan Duque withdraw theproposal, which originally leveled sales tax on public servicesand some food.

Cali, the country’s third-largest city, has seen the mostvociferous marches, some looting and the burning of multiplecity buses.

Death counts were inconsistent. National human rightsombudsman Carlos Camargo said that three protesters died in Caliand another three deaths there were being investigated.

One death each occurred in Bogota and the city of Neiva,Camargo said. A police officer in the city of Soacha died ofinjuries sustained on Wednesday. A further 179 civilians and 216police officers have been injured nationally.

Rights organization Human Rights Watch said it had receivedreports of possible police abuse in Cali, and local human rightsgroups alleged up to 14 deaths occurred.

Cities at high risk for violence will continue to getmilitary assistance, with accompanying human rights guarantees,Duque said in a Saturday evening video.

Isolated vandalism, clashes between police and protestersand road blockades occurred in several cities on Saturday, andriot police were deployed in the capital.

Saturday’s protests took place despite an announcement byDuque late on Friday that the reform will now not include salestax on food or utilities or an expansion of income tax.

The government insists the reform is vital to stabilizingColombia’s finances, maintaining its credit rating and fundingsocial programs.

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