Colombia’s congress came under fire on Tuesday for advancing a tax reform that anti-government protesters want off the table, and a bill to favor convicted politicians.
The vote on the so-called “Growth and Employment” law was fiercely criticized by opposition politicians and Bogota mayor-elect Claudia Lopez, who tweeted that “they’re adding fuel to fire and then they complain they get burned.”
President Ivan Duque reportedly was able to secure a congressional majority in a private meeting with former Vice-President German Vargas, whose Radical Change party is crucial for the reform’s approval.
The vote followed after a first meeting between the government and leaders of a national strike who want the government to revoke the bill that offers tax cuts to corporations and lowers the threshold on income tax.
Economics scholars have widely rejected the government’s claim that the tax reform would benefit the country’s economy.
The initial approval of the tax reform and a bill that seeks to retroactively grant convicted politicians a right to appeal diverted public indignation from Duque to Congress on social media.
This government tax project is a mockery, a bad joke for all Colombians and for those still on the streets demanding social justice.
Senator Ivan Marulanda (Green Alliance)
Anti-government protests have been ongoing since November 21 and Wednesday will see more mass marches as the strike leaders called a fifth day of national strikes.
The strike leaders have laid down specific demands, specifically the sinking of the tax reform that sank Duque’s approval rating last year.
The support for the anti-government protests is partly due to a broad rejection of backroom politics that, for example, guaranteed Duque the political support for the tax reform that is widely rejected by the public.