Columbia’s Tax Reform Crisis and Protest

Daniel Xelhua, Writer

The protests in Columbia involving the citizens of Columbia started on April 28,2021. The protests and riots have really been out of control because of the tax reforms. The violence has escalated a lot, which says alot about the Columbian government and how awful they are running the country. 

According to Al Jazeera.Com ,“At least 40 protesters have been killed and hundreds injured by security forces and armed men dressed in civilian clothes. Many have been arrested and dozens of women have been sexually assaulted by police officers.”

This is all because of an unfair tax reform that the government made seem like a good thing, like saying that it was a scheme to help out the people that were hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.  It had many provisions that would hurt low income households and lower the taxable income threshold. 

According to “increased pension and value-added tax, which would have significantly increased the prices of subsistence items, such as eggs, milk, cheese and meat.”

Although some reform elements could have a positive impact, it still had a bad impact on the people who were living in poverty due to the Covid -19 pandemic. They would not benefit from any tax refunds that former laborers would have enjoyed as compensation from the increase in value added tax.   

So then the riots and protests started to happen and instead of the government listening to their citizens, they completely ignored the citizens and stated a complaint to portray these actions as an act to destabilize the country. The government did not stop there; they ordered a kraken protester by deploying security forces and the military. They used tanks and several weapons to disperse the citizens and hurt the unarmed that were mostly peaceful crowds. It has brought the level of violence that has never been seen before in decades. 

According to “ The government failed to respond and rein in the security forces. Its disregard for the grievances of various sectors of the population, and even their lives.”

The loss of legitimacy carries high stress for the country of Columbia because of its failure to cooperate with the citizens of Columbia. The level of violence that has been reached can lead to a dangerous potential of encouraging civilians to resort to armed groups.  This places Columbia at a crossroads, they can either choose to recognize the grievances of the population and engage in dialogue instead of violence. 

 If Columbia does decide to cooperate and listen to the citizens instead of deploying more security forces and making things worse, they can increase the legitimacy of their work and work towards strengthening their social contract. But this can only happen if the government stops militarization around cities.