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Colombia has been protesting for three weeks and it’s gotten messy, very messy

Anti-government protests have raged across the country, but the two sides just sat down to talk. What’s going on? And where is it headed?

Colombians have taken to the streets for weeks across the country after the government proposed tax increases on public services, fuel, wages and pensions.
People gather in an anti-government protest in Bogota, Colombia, Saturday, May 15, 2021.
Associated Press

The South American country of Colombia has seen large-scale, anti-government protests for three weeks straight, The New York Times reports. Sparked by tax reforms, protesters' demands go much further than just taxes.

What led to the Colombia protests?

Protests began April 28 in response to a new tax plan proposed by the Colombian government, according to the AP. The new tax plan would increase taxes on everyday goods and services during a time when millions of people’s income dropped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BBC and The New York Times report.

According to NBC News and The New York Times, protesters have called out the government’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic and its inability to foster peace with the rebel group FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, who continue to cause violence in rural areas. More broadly, protesters have cited poverty and inequality as reasons for their demonstrations.

The violent clashes have drawn criticism from human rights groups for the excessive use of police force and led protesters to add police violence to their list of concerns, say NBC News and The New York Times. For the students and young adults who have led much of the protests, the lack of future opportunities is another driving factor, NBC reports.

What do protesters want?

According to The New York Times, protesters have called for the government to guarantee a minimum income, withdraw a health reform act that neglects systemic problems and prevent police violence. Protesters have also called for a full reform of the police and free tuition at public universities, BBC reports.

Where is this going?

On Sunday, government officials met with the leaders of the national strike committee for the second time, with meetings scheduled to continue on Monday, France 24 reports. However, on Monday, Colombian President Iván Duque ordered the full deployment of the military to clear protesters and roadblocks.

  • The outcome of the recent meetings is still unknown.