Updated 03:12 AM EDT, Mon, Jun 01, 2020

Thousands Protest against the Colombian Government’s Proposed Economic Plans

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Thousands protested across Colombia on Sunday against the government's proposed economic reforms.

Representatives from trade and social sectors flocked on the streets of Armenia, Barranquilla, Bogota, Cali, and Cartagena, among other cities, teleSUR listed. The protesters aired out their grievances against the government's economic plans, such as tax increases that critics say will have a huge impact on the poor, and an increase in the minimum wage that fails to match the inflation.

Around 500 people demonstrated in Bogota's Plaza Bolivar, where they demanded a 12 percent increase in the minimum wage instead of the 7 percent declared in the decree, the news outlet added. They are also against a new tax on bank transactions and the increase in value added tax, or VAT, which will climb from 16 percent to 19 percent.

People also protested on the streets of Medellin, Colombia's second largest city. Demonstrators objected corruption and the high cost of living, with lead organizer Maria Victoria Garcia telling teleSUR that Colombians "are tired of (President Juan Manuel) Santos doing what he wants."

A spokesperson for the Citizens Movement, Andrea Liliana Bermudez, said that the protests aimed to emphasize "the injustices being committed in this country against ordinary citizens," teleSUR noted. The General Confederation of Labor, or CGT, has also announced a general national strike to be held in March.

Aside from these, demonstrators opposed the sale of the Colombian government's controlling stake in power generator Isagen to a Canadian investment fund, teleSUR further reported.

A group led by Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management is paying $2.2 billion for 57 percent of Isagen, which operates Colombia's largest dam, the Associated Press reported (via Yahoo! News).

Employees of Isagen staged protests against the privatization of the strategic and profit-generating firm. A number of Santos' allies also questioned the sale's insight "after the only other potential bidder pulled out, all but guaranteeing the winning offer wouldn't exceed the government-set minimum," the AP added.

The Colombian president, however, pushed through with the sale to improve the country's fiscal accounts as a collapse in oil prices threaten the economy, the news outlet noted. Oil makes up more than half of the nation's exports.

The government plans to use the proceeds of Brookfield's investments for funding highways, bridges, and tunnels across the country, also called as its 4G infrastructure projects, Reuters reported. A finance ministry official said that Brookfield has until Jan. 27 to pay for the firm and acquire possession of the shares.

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