At least 70 arrested in latest round of protests in Colombia | Protests News

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The demonstrations marked the end of a weeklong lull in the unrest over taxes, police and poverty.

At least 70 people have been arrested in the last round of anti-government protests in Colombia, according to police.

The authorities made the announcement on Wednesday, a day after Colombians took to the streets again in demonstrations that first began in April in opposition to a since abandoned tax increase. The protests have shifted to a wider movement against the right-wing government of President Ivan Duque.

Tuesday’s demonstration against the government’s introduction of a new, milder tax proposal to parliament marked the end of a… week long break at demonstrations, which led to a security crackdown, where observers say at least 60 people have been killed.

The government estimates the death toll at about a third and the United Nations has called for an independent investigation into the killings.

Authorities said 50 people – 24 civilians and 26 officers – were injured in the cities of Bogota, Medellin and Cali amid clashes between riot police and protesters.

While the government has said the most recent round of protests has been largely peaceful, officials have repeatedly accused armed groups of infiltrating the demonstrations.

Those arrested Tuesday were charged with, among other things, blocking public roads, damaging property, throwing dangerous objects or substances and possessing firearms.

Police Reform, Poverty Reduction

The protesters have also demanded an end to police repression and more supportive government policies to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 40 percent of the country’s 50 million inhabitants now live in poverty.

On Wednesday, the government presented a bill to lawmakers to reform the police, which have been accused of abuses against civilian protesters.

It proposes better training for officers and sanctions for those who fail to identify themselves when arrested or who refuse to be filmed performing their duties.

But it does not suggest that the police be removed from the control of the Ministry of National Defense, as demanded by protesters.

Police officials have said the police should remain part of the military to fight violence, drug trafficking and smuggling.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, among others, has condemned Colombia’s “disproportionate” and “deadly” response to the protests and has also recommended separating police activities from the military.

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