Celebrities, international groups call attention to Colombia's deadly protests

International organizations and high-profile celebrities are drawing attention to the situation in Colombia, where protests against a planned tax increase in connection with pandemics left at least 19 dead and hundreds injured.

“We need help. Colombia needs help, SOS,” said Colombian Latin American music star J Balvin. posted on Instagram, I also write in Spanish that “there is no control over the situation”.

“It is unacceptable that a mother should lose her only son because of brutality and that the lives of another 18 people were torn away from peaceful protests,” wrote the Colombian pop star Shakira.

The western city of Cali has become the epicenter of the protests, with 11 of the 19 deaths occurring, despite protests across the country. The Colombian Defense Agency Defensoría del Pueblo said 89 people were missing after the protests News reports.

The European Union warned against the use of excessive force by the authorities in the protests sparked by the tax hike that President Iván Duque insisted on to repair the country’s economy. The Andean country’s economy contracted by almost 7 percent last year due to the pandemic. Duque announced on Sunday that he would withdraw the proposal and look for a new one.

Protesters clash with riot police during a protest against proposed government tax reform in Cali, Colombia, on Monday. Luis Robayo / AFP – Getty Images

However, the protests that began last week also raised anger over rising poverty, inequality and what interest groups refer to as excessive police violence.

More protests are planned and the High Commissioner for Human Rights urges calm and warns of police shootings.

Duque has announced that his government will come up with another tax reform proposal and called for unity during his nightly television show.

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