Why Colombia Is Resisting The Narco Government Of Ivan Duque
The brutal crackdown has prompting statements of concern and condemnation from several world governments including the US government and the EU. The protests are fueled by anger over Duque's mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic which left at least 85,666 dead, the rampant and the resulting financial woes from a stagnant economy.
Public anger was worsened after the government decided to propose a tax hike despite spending millions on new military and police equipment instead of the COVID19 response throughout 2020. The Duque government claimed that Colombia needs to increase revenues through taxes to be able to spend and maintain vital social programs like welfare and credit lines to businesses struggling with the pandemic.
The Duque government however failed to address people's concerns that money across Colombia was being hoarded by the political-narco elite, like Alvaro Uribe who is estimated to be worth up to 1.1 Billion USD. The proposed tax hike would disproportionally impacted Colombia's most vulnerable in an already collapsing economy, raising the prices for essential items and launching millions into further poverty.
Unemployment in Colombia increased from 9% in 2018 to 16% in 2021 while the Duque government was in power and was on the rise even before the pandemic. The tax hike triggered nationwide protests which were peaceful up to the point where the Duque government decided to intervene with brutal repression and violence. Videos of anti-riot policemen, known as ESMAD, undercover police, and other law enforcement agencies firing live ammunition at unarmed protestors and committing a litany of abuses have helped keep protests going. The unnecessarily violent police response unleashed riots and protests across 247 cities and towns across Colombia, and dozens more worldwide.
Duque's violent repression and police brutality have led to international calls for an independent, international inquiry into the killings. Human rights groups, protestors, and even the hacker group Anonymous have called for justice and an end to Duque's impunity, and declared solidarity with the popular protest movements.