Syndicalist Groups In Colombia Call For More Strikes After Government Releases New Tax Reform Proposal
Colombia’s Comité Nacional de Paro, or “National Strike Committee has called for renewed strikes and marches after the administration of President Ivan Duque submitted a new fiscal reform package to congress, three months after an original package was withdrawn and the finance minister resigned after widespread protests and strikes.
- The government’s failure to address 67 massacres this year, or the assassinations of 283 ex-combatants in the past five years.
- Repression by the attorney general’s office of strikers, charging protesters with terrorism
- The murder this month specifically of Esteban Mosquera, who had already lost an eye to police violence in 2018.
- The failure of 10 CNP bills to advance in congress
- The freezing of wages of government workers as part of the tax reform package.
- Government privatization – it mentions the sale of ISA to Ecopetrol, however the sale was from one government controlled entity to another.
- What it calls the “neoliberal and regressive character” of the new proposed tax reform.
In an interview with TV broadcaster Red+ Noticias, the president of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, Francisco Maltes justified the group’s opposition because:
- It would impose the same 35% income tax on both large and small enterprises. They want a preferred rate for small and medium sized businesses.
- The proposed tax reform would freeze the salaries of 1.3 million government workers for 10 years.
- Elements in the tax reform would, according to him, weaken the collective bargaining ability of labor organizations to negotiate with the government as enshrined in Article 54 of the Colombian Constitution.
#EnVivo | ¿Cuáles son los reparos del Comité de Paro a la nueva reforma tributaria?
— red+ noticias (@RedMasNoticias) August 26, 2021
Strikes began last April against a tax reform package that the Colombian government failed to “sell” to the public, or even to members of congress beyond the President’s own Centro Democrático party. Though strikes began largely peacefully, the violent response of Colombian ESMAD riot police units escalated the level of confrontation and discord, leading to looting, blockades and rioting on one hand, and a flood of documented accounts of police violence and misconduct on the other.
August 26 Actions
In Cali, the city hit hardest by last spring’s civil unrest, today more than 2.000 police officers are being deployed, with an announced demonstration beginning at the railway station and ending in San Francisco Plaza.
In Medellín, protesters have called a mobilization from 10am, and a Parque de los Deseos sit-in beginning at 4pm. School has been called off in Bucaramanga, and unions have called for a 9am gathering beginning at Puerta del Sol, and occupying parts of 27th Avenue, 36th street, and the García Rovira park.
Santa Marta, Barranquilla, Pereira, Ibagué
In Santa Marta, marches start at 9am from the Grand Coliseum (Coliseo Mayor). In Barranquilla, the strike begins at the University of the Atlantic (Uniatlántico). Teachers who participate will be given paid leave, according to the Atlantic Educators Association. Those who do not participate must work at least three hours. Pereira expects sit-ins at the mayor’s office and Risaralda government facilities, while in Ibague, there will be a cit-in at Plazoleta Dario Echandía.
The US Embassy has issued an alert to US Citizens saying that it expects planned demonstrations in the following Bogotá locations:
- Parque Nacional – Carrera 7 and Calle 35.
- Secretaría Distrital de Salud – Calle 13 and Carrera 32.
- Centro de Memoria Paz y Reconciliación – Carrera 19 and Calle 24.
- Avenida Boyacá and Calle 71 sur.
- Avenida Cali and Calle 45 sur.
- Avenida Suba and Avenida Cali.
- Avenida Caracas and Carrera 68.
- Autopista Sur and Carrera 75.
- Avenida Caracas and Calle 51B sur.
- Autopista Norte and Calle 171.
- Monumento a los Héroes – Autopista Norte and Calle 80.
- Also, possible demonstrations are expected at Universidad Nacional, Distrital, and Pedagógica, especially during the afternoon.
Advice for foreigners
The US embassy went on to share the following information
While most protests remain peaceful, large crowds confronted by police or anti-riot forces may turn violent rapidly. If you require assistance, please contact us at the phone number and/or email provided below.
Actions to Take:
- Avoid protest areas.
- Avoid crowds and demonstrations.
- Keep a low profile.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Monitor local media for updates.
- Plan for alternative travel routes or remain in place if travel becomes difficult.
- U.S. Embassy Bogota, Colombia
- U.S. Consular Agency, Barranquilla
- U.S. Department of State – Consular Affairs
1-888-407-4747 or 1-202-501-4444
- Colombia Country Information
- Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates
- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
- U.S. Embassy Bogota, Colombia
Image: Twitter feed of @adebogota