Police opened fire on protesters in Colombia; UN, NGOs pressure Iván Duque

A protester holds a sign, which, translated to English, reads: "They say we are the future of the country but they are killing us," on May 5, 2021 in Bogota, Colombia. (Photo: Vizzor Image, Getty Images)

BOGOTA, Colombia — The United Nations human rights office said it was “deeply alarmed” over violence against protesters in the Colombian city of Cali, where “police opened fire on demonstrators” and allegedly killed and injured several people Monday night.

The statement from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights comes as antigovernment protests sparked by proposed tax increase enter their sixth day and show few signs of stopping.

According to Colombia’s Human Rights Ombudsman, 16 protesters and one policeman have been killed in the demonstrations since last Wednesday. But that figure doesn’t include reports of deaths in Cali on Monday, which the U.N. said it is still trying to confirm.

The protests began after Colombia’s government proposed a tax plan aimed at raising $6.7 billion to pay the country’s debts and maintain a basic income scheme for 3 million low-income people that started during the pandemic.

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