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According to Colombian police authorities, at least 70 people were arrested in Colombia's latest round of anti-government protests.
Authorities announced the news on Wednesday, a day after Colombians again took to the street in demonstrations that first began in April in opposition to a since-abandoned tax hike. The protests have transformed into a wider movement against the right-wing administration of President Ivan Duque.
Tuesday’s protests against the government’s introduction to Congress of a new, milder tax proposal marked the end of a weeks-long pause in demonstrations, which prompted security crackdowns that observers report have left at least 60 people dead.
While government puts the number of dead at about a third of that, the United Nations has called for further independent probes into the killings.
Authorities report that 50 people, including 24 civilians and 26 agents, were injured in the cities of Bogota, Medellin, and Cali due to clashes between riot police and protesters.
While the government stated the most recent protests were generally peaceful, officials repeatedly accused armed groups of infiltrating demonstrations.
Those arrested on Tuesday face charges such as blocking public roads, damage to property, throwing dangerous objects or substances, and firearm possession.
Demonstrators also demanded an end to police repression and more public policies to alleviate the economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, given more than 40 percent of the country’s 50 million inhabitants are now living in poverty.
Imagine the OAS condemning arrests in Colombia or Brazil or Honduras or many other countries, including of course the US, where cops kill more people in a year than Cuba arrests. What a sick joke. https://t.co/831tehP1K1
On Wednesday, the Colombian government presented lawmakers with a bill to reform the police.
It suggests improved training for officers and sanctions for those who fail to identify themselves when carrying out arrests or refuse to be filmed while performing their duties.
However, the law does not suggest removing the police from the control of the Ministry of National Defense, as protesters demand.
Police officials said the police must remain part of the military to combat violence, drug trafficking, and smuggling.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, among other groups, condemned Colombia’s “disproportionate” and “lethal” response to the protests and has also recommended separating police operations from the military.