Protests force Colombia to backpedal on tax reform

Violent protests over a controversial tax reform proposal in Colombia on Friday forced the country's right-wing president, Ivan Duque, to backpedal on his government's plans.

Protesters hurled molotov cocktails and rocks at police, who fired back with tear gas and a water cannon.

Demonstrators blocked the streets by burning barricades and scattering debris.

Thousands have taken to the streets this week protesting the proposal, resulting in dozens of arrests, injuries and one death.

The proposed reform includes more taxes, an attempt to raise billions of dollars and, the government says, avoid a downgrade on its debt rating.

Duque said Friday it would no longer include sales tax on food, utilities and gasoline nor would it expand the country's income tax.

He added that he had directed the finance ministry to rewrite the proposal based on "consensus" and "valuable proposals presented by political parties, civil society and the private sector."

Duque does not have a solid majority in Congress and even his own party has criticized the proposal.

Earlier on Friday the interior minister told Reuters the government was willing to modify the proposal but would not withdraw it despite public pressure, arguing that it will stabilize public finances and keep social programs running.

The government has already lowered the amount of money it hopes to raise.