WIDE+ condemns the Colombian state oppression and violence against all groups and individuals that are now asking for social justice. The Colombian government should protect and not violently undermine people’s rights to their political mobilization and expression of discontentment in the form of protests and rallies. We wish to offer a voice of solidarity to all feminists, pacifists, people on the streets of Colombia, fighting for a better tomorrow – for all.
Since April 2021, country-wide protests have been occurring around Colombia. The protests have arisen as a consequence of a tax and health reform proposed by the Latin American country’s president, Iván Duque. The police have responded to the uprising violently and with force. We would like to express our support and extend our solidarity to the people in the streets of Colombia, exercising their civil right to protest and civil mobilization.
The vexed tax reform was introduced as a way of strengthening Colombia’s struggle against the virus, however it proposed increased tax on basic services and goods, such as basic food items, which would become unattainable for many people. In a country where more than 42,5% of the country’s population of 50 million now lives in poverty, a number greatly affected by the pandemic, neoliberal reforms are not a sustainable way of achieving greater economic equality and a harmonious society. Together with the coronavirus measures, the existing gaps in wealth would deepen and create greater inequalities and crises.
The tax reform in question has since been withdrawn, however its proposal brought to the surface greater systemic issues that Colombia is facing. The protesters are calling for Covid-19 vaccines, universal basic income, and greater respect for human rights.
The demonstrations continue, and with them severe police violence and repression. There are reports of police brutality, including homicide, arbitrary arrests, gun firings and sexual assault by law enforcement and military forces. Many people have been reported missing. Students, trade unionists, pacifists, feminists and indigenous people have taken to the streets, as it is most often marginalized groups of people who are most severely affected by the negative impact of neoliberal politics, lack of universal healthcare and poverty.
Photo by Flavia Carpio