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Protests force Colombia to push back the tax reform

Violent protests against a controversial tax reform proposal in Colombia on Friday forced the country’s right-wing president, Ivan Duque, to roll back his government’s plans. The protesters threw Molotov cocktails and stones at the police, who shot back with tear gas and a water cannon. Protesters blocked the streets by burning barricades and scattering debris. Thousands took to the streets this week to protest the proposal, resulting in dozens of arrests, injuries and one death. The proposed reform includes more taxes, an attempt to raise billions of dollars, and the government says avoid downgrading its debt rating. Duque said Friday it would no longer include sales tax on groceries, utilities and gasoline, nor would it increase the country’s income tax. He added that he had directed the Treasury Department to rewrite the proposal based on “consensus” and “valuable suggestions from political parties, civil society and the private sector”. Duque doesn’t have a solid majority in Congress. Even his own party has criticized the proposal. Earlier on Friday, Interior Minister told Reuters that the government was ready to change the proposal but, despite public pressure, would not withdraw it, arguing that it would stabilize public finances and keep social programs going. The government has already lowered the amount of money it wants to raise.

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