Environmental organizations working with Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in Colombia have spoken out about the popular movements currently manifesting in the country through a national strike and massive protests in different cities since April 28. The protests had their origin in a tax reform presented by the national government, which was firmly rejected by broad sectors of society. It would have meant higher taxes for the basic food basket and public services, among other impacts. Criticism of the policy escalated after Alberto Carrasquilla, the finance minister, said in a live TV interview that a dozen eggs could cost around 1,800 pesos, the equivalent of 50 U.S. cents — considerably far from the reality in Colombia, where a dozen eggs costs between $2 and $4. The interview unleashed anger and resentment over the minister’s ignorance of the prices of essential consumer items. The tax reform was revoked and Carrasquilla resigned, replaced by the minister of commerce, José Manuel Restrepo. But Colombians continue to protest, motivated by substantial social unrest triggered by high unemployment (which hit 21.4% in May 2020, in one of the worst crises prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic); rampant corruption; enormous economic inequality; and a rising poverty rate. The ranks of the country’s poor grew by 6.8% in 2020, placing 42.5% of all Colombians below the poverty line, according to the National Administrative Department of Statistics. It’s against this backdrop that ordinary Colombians have marched “at great risk to their lives due to the violent state repression…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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