President of Colombia, Ivan Duque, on Tuesday, May 4, spoke in favor of initiating a national dialogue, with the participation of citizens and organizations of the country to find a solution to the crisis amidst the ongoing unrest in the country. He stated this in an address to the people, which was broadcast on Twitter by the press service of the head of state.
“Tomorrow there will be meetings with the institutions of our countries, with the participation of representatives from the courts, supervisory bodies, governors of the Congress and civil society, mayors and associations that unite, together with the private sector and members of the communal councils, we hope to act to defend the values that Colombians need,” he stated.
According to the president, the goal of the national dialogue is to renounce violence “in all its forms,” accelerate the vaccination of the country’s population, provide resources that promote “continuity of social programs and protection of the most vulnerable (sectors of society. – Ed.) and, of course, return to the recovery of the economy.”
According to the Colombian ombudsman’s office, 19 protesters and one police officer were killed in clashes during the week, and 89 people are missing.
Demonstrations against tax reform have been taking place in Colombia since last week. Riots have occurred in the capital Bogota, Cali, Medellín and other cities. More than 840 people have been injured on both sides of the barricades, with 431 detainees reported. President Ivan Duque later publicly refused to expand the application of VAT on gasoline and utilities and the income tax base, but the protests continued.
The authors of the tax reform, Colombian Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla and his deputy Juan Alberto Londoño, resigned amid the protests.
Workers and students now demand, in addition to the repeal of the tax reform, a review of the health service, the dissolution of the Esmad riot squads, the demilitarization of cities, and an end to the killing of citizens.