At least 27 dead in days of anti-government protests in Colombia

Bogota, May 7 (EFE).- At least 27 people have lost their lives in days of protests against proposed tax reform, Colombia human rights ombudsman and prosecutor’s office said Friday.

The two agencies said they were verifying 359 cases of disappearances during the wave of protests that began on Apr.28.

Advocacy groups like Temblores have alleged that the police brutality against protesters has left 37 people dead.

The government led by conservative President Ivan Duque is now seeking consensus with different political, economic, and social sectors to end the crisis.

However, the rage, which began against the already withdrawn tax reforms, has amplified into a campaign against police brutality, an attempt by the government to reform healthcare and the security situation in the South American country.

The ombudsman and the prosecutor’s office indicated that they had received 548 reports of “alleged disappearances.”

Some 189 of them have already been found.

They said the verification process was ongoing since a massive volume of cases was to be probed in a short period.

“Within 24 hours, it will be updated again,” the two agencies said.

Cali, the third-largest city in Colombia, remained the epicenter of the protests on the 10th day of countrywide demonstrations.

The violence in the streets of the city has claimed more than 20 people, advocacy groups said.

The federal government has deployed some 1,200 soldiers in the city to restore order.

At least two people were wounded on Friday night in Valle del Cauca (southwest) during a firing incident, allegedly targeting a medical mission.

Juliette de Rivero, a UN Human Rights representative in Colombia, said there were reports of firing in different parts of Cali that left at least two injured.

“We urge to respect the medical mission,” Rivero said on Twitter.

The protesters demonstrate against the government’s economic policies even as it has withdrawn the tax reform bill.

The popular revolt against Duque’s tax overhaul, which would have required a broader swath of the country to pay income tax and raised the value-added tax on goods and services, among other controversial measures, began last Wednesday.

Demonstrators have said they would continue to mobilize against other government initiatives, including the Duque administration’s health reform plan. EFE


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