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At least 70 arrested in latest round of Colombia protests | Protests News

The protests marked the end of a weeks-long hiatus in tax, police and poverty unrest.

At least 70 people have been arrested in the latest round of anti-government protests in Colombia, police say.

Authorities said Wednesday, a day after Colombians took to the streets again in protests that began in April to oppose a since-abandoned tax hike. The protests turned into a larger movement against the right-wing administration of President Ivan Duque.

Tuesday’s protest against the government’s presentation to parliament of a new, softer tax proposal marked the end of a weeks-long hiatus in protests, which prompted security measures that observers say have at least 60 dead.

The government estimates the death toll at around a third of that, and the United Nations has called for an independent investigation into the killings.

Authorities said 50 people – 24 civilians and 26 officers – were injured in the cities of Bogota, Medellin and Cali during clashes between riot police and protesters.

While the government has said the latest round of protests were largely peaceful, officials have repeatedly accused armed groups of infiltrating the protests.

Those arrested on Tuesday were charged with blocking public roads, damaging property, throwing dangerous objects or substances and possessing firearms.

Police reform, fight against poverty

Protesters also demanded an end to police repression and more favorable public policies to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 40 percent of the country’s 50 million people today live in poverty.

On Wednesday, the government presented lawmakers with a bill to reform the police, accused of abuses against civilian protesters.

It offers better training for officers and sanctions for those who do not identify themselves during arrests, or who refuse to be filmed in the course of their duties.

But he is not proposing to remove the police from the control of the Ministry of National Defense, as demanded by the demonstrators.

Police officials said the police must remain in the military to combat violence, drug trafficking and smuggling.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, among other groups, condemned Colombia’s “disproportionate” and “deadly” response to the protests and also recommended separating police operations from the military.




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