Protest news is growing as Colombians are on the eighth day of mass protests

Bogota Colombia – Anti-government protests erupted across Colombia on Wednesday, the eighth day, as rights groups continue to raise concerns. Excessive violence By security forces.

Bogota, the capital of riot police on Wednesday afternoon at three o’clock in the public square to disperse protesters in several places in the city where people had gathered there, and used tear gas.

But protesters say they will continue to take to the streets despite right-wing President Evan Withdrawal of conflicting tax reforms Which forced them to protest in the first place last week

“Yes, they have withdrawn the reforms, but they have not made any changes,” said Olga Cabos, a 48-year-old emerald trade unionist who took part in the second national strike in suburban Bogota on April 26.

“We cannot allow this duke government to continue to do more difficult things for our poor,” he told Al Jazeera, marking the anti-government bill.

The protests were sparked by the people’s tax reform which the government said was to stabilize the economy damaged by the coronavirus epidemic. But working-class and middle-class Colombians said the plan was in favor of the rich Putting more pressure on them.

The Duke on Sunday and withdrew his offer The finance minister resigned a day later, But protesters are now demanding the withdrawal of a proposed health reform, among other demands, and the withdrawal of one million pesos (26 260) guaranteed basic income for all Colombians.

“Although tax reform was an early start, the current protests in Colombia reflect various social, political and economic allegations that the Duke government will be pressured to deal with existing scripts for national dialogue,” said Dr. Arlene Tickner, professor of science at Rosario University in Bogot.

Violence is on the rise

Violence erupted late Monday in Kali, the country’s third-largest city, where protesters said police fired to disperse the crowd. The video of the police brutality in Kali – which Al Jazeera was unable to verify individually – was widely shared on social media on Tuesday.

On-the-ground sources, the police fired indiscriminately at protesters, even from the helicopter.

The number of deaths related to the protests is widely debated and widespread among the government and independent NGOs. Colombian human rights locksman says 24 people have died, while local NGO Temblores, which records police torture, estimates that 337 people have died.

Protesters take part in a protest in Medellin against the government of President Evan Duke [Joaquin Sarmiento/AFP]

There have been reports of looting and vandalism during several protests, and local politicians have condemned the actions.

The unrest escalated in Bogota on Tuesday evening, with 30 civilians and one police officer injured. The mayor’s office said in a statement that a mob had set fire to a small police station and tried to “burn alive” 10 police officers.

Meanwhile, various U.S. officials, the United Nations and the European Union have condemned the national police force for firing on protesters. Celebrities, including Shakira, a Colombian-born musician – who has been outspoken about commenting on political issues – have also spoken out against the violence.

“I urge the government of my country to take immediate action to stop human rights violations and restore the value of human life rather than the interests of political life,” the singer tweeted in Spanish on Tuesday.

According to Tickner, “international pressure to stop police brutality and respect for human rights has not had much of an impact on increasingly state-run violence and accountability.”

Hundreds arrested

In a video Wednesday, Duke reiterated the government’s allegations that illegal armed groups were involved in vandalism and looting, and said more than 550 arrests had been made.

“There will be no war with those who commit these crimes – everyone in society will be brought to justice,” Duke said.

The president had earlier called for a “dialogue to hear and resolve” national dialogue before the march, as in 2012, when Colombians took to the streets over economic inequality, slowly Implement the peace process And growing insecurity.

Elizabeth Dixon, a senior Colombian analyst with the International Crisis Group, said that although in some cases illegal groups had infiltrated the current protests, “you cannot make any credible claim that any armed or criminal group is inciting or forcing the protesters to take to the streets.”

What he is doing is a “legal social movement,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Here in the capital, Bogota, the number of people living in extreme poverty has tripled in just one year, so it’s a real moment of social crisis across the country, and I think the protests could be more lasting than in 2014.”

Two police officers were seen during demonstrations in May bagotaya [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]

Nonetheless, Sergio Guzman, a political analyst who founded Columbia Risk Analysis, said many of the protesters’ demands were unrealistic – and that the Duke government would not welcome them.

“Demands like universal basic income are not possible under any circumstances,” he told Al Jazeera, adding that protesters had not yet established a negotiating position that the government would consider feasible or acceptable.

But he said the government needed to address the protesters’ concerns, especially police brutality.

Dixon agreed and added that both sides are currently very involved in their positions.

“The demands of the protesters are really increasing day by day,” he said. “This is a list of very significant changes for the state and for right or wrong. They need to make very significant and profound reforms to the way the state works.”

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