While in the middle of a debate over a broadly rejected tax reform, Colombia’s senate president adjourned the session on Tuesday claiming a “procedural error” had been made.
The senate was expected to debate and vote on the tax reform that has triggered mass anti-government protest. The high chamber came no further than going through the impediments.
Senate president Lidio Garcia (Liberal Party) said the extraordinary session had not been timely convoked, which would have made any vote in violation of the constitution.
The suspension is a major embarrassment; the same tax reform was declared unconstitutional by the court in October over procedural errors made when it was initially approved last year.
As soon as the session was lifted, visitors and opposition politician embarked on a “cacerolazo,” the banging on pots and pans that have become iconic for the anti-government protests that began on November 21.
— Feliciano Valencia 🌽 (@FelicianoValen) December 17, 2019
Colombians expressed their frustration about the senate’s apparent inability to legally convoke a session over the bill they have been protesting against for weeks online.
the congress is a fucking circus, every single congressman should be considered an enemy of the people, the destroyers of democracy in Colombia #17DParoNacional
— david🇨🇴 (@driverera5sos) December 17, 2019
The so-called “Economic Growth and Job Creation Bill” is rejected by economists and protesters alike, mainly because of a tax discount for large companies of which it is unclear how this would benefit anyone but the companies.
Despite major public resistance, the government of President Ivan Duque has been adamant in pushing the bill through Congress and suspended lawmakers’ three-month Christmas leave until Friday to secure the approval of the tax reform.
Meanwhile, protests in opposition of “Duque’s Great Package” have been ongoing, the president’s approval rating has plummeted and police are facing lawsuits over its violent attempts to crack down on peaceful protests.
The labor unions, students and indigenous leaders who have organized several national strikes want the bill off the table, but the government has so far refused to negotiate any of its controversial policies.
The session to vote on the tax reform will start from scratch on Wednesday morning.