TW: Police brutality
Lately, the news has been saturated with stories about violence and unrest in countries around the world, and one of the most recent countries making headlines is Colombia. Half of my family is from Colombia, so I have been reading every story that comes my way, and it is heartbreaking. TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram have been flooded with videos of protestors being brutalized by the police and the Colombian military, people washing tear gas out of the eyes, and pro-government sympathizers killing protest leaders.
The people did not start protesting out of nowhere, and these aren’t even the first big protests in recent history. From late 2019 to early 2020, Colombia experienced one of its largest mass demonstrations in history. Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest against all the ways their government had failed them from high poverty levels, income inequality, corruption, and violent policing tactics. This year, protesters stand on a united front. The target of these protests is a tax plan proposed by President Duque. This tax plan would lower the income threshold for income taxes, begin taxing pensions, increase taxes on businesses, and tax basic necessities like food and water. But most people of Colombia have little to nothing left to give. COVID-19 has plunged millions of people into poverty, raised the unemployment level to 16%, and has shut down hundreds of thousands of businesses.
Colombians are refusing to back down. To me, these protests are reminiscent of those that were a part of the Arab Spring or the Color Revolutions. Both were massively widespread, peaceful, anti-government protests. The Latin America Spring was gaining momentum by the end of 2019, and I think many governments believed the pandemic would put an end to the protests for good, but they were wrong. Colombians, and people all over Latin America, are tired of their governments allowing corruption, police violence, and wealth hoarding while the middle, working, and lower classes are struggling to survive in a country with fewer and fewer opportunities.