Colombia deploys military to protest epicenter

A month into the violent anti-government demonstrations across the country, Colombia will begin deploying its military to the western province of Valle del Cauca, after four protesters there died on Friday.

The provincial capital Cali has been an epicenter of the protests.

Demonstrations against a controversial tax reform kicked off across the country in late April, with tens of thousands of marchers taking to the streets every week.

They've since expanded their demands, including basic income and an end to police violence.

Colombian President Ivan Duque announced the quote "maximum deployment" of military assistance to Valle del Cauca on Friday, adding that over 7,000 personnel, including members of the navy, will be sent to lift road blockades.

The governor of Valle del Cauca also declared a curfew starting at 7pm.

Despite the government and protest leaders reaching a "pre-agreement" for ending demonstrations this week, strike organizers said Thursday the government had not signed the deal and accused it of stalling.

The government said it had not signed the deal because some protest leaders would not condemn road blocks, calling the issue non-negotiable, and adding that talks will resume on Sunday.

They added over a dozen civilians have died in connection with protests as of Thursday.

Human rights groups said dozens more have been killed by security forces.

Two police officers have also reportedly been killed.

Colombia's defense ministry did not immediately respond to questions.

Colombia's finance ministry estimates protests and roadblocks have cost the country over $2.6 billion, leading to shortages of food and other supplies, boosting prices, and disrupting daily business operations.