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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 October, 2004, 06:50 GMT 07:50 UK
Colombians in nationwide protest
By Jeremy McDermott
BBC News, Bogota

Tear gas fired during demonstration in Popayan
Police fired tear gas during a demonstration in Popayan
About 700,000 Colombians have taken part in nationwide protests against President Alvaro Uribe.

Demonstrators came from trade unions, civic groups and opposition parties, all complaining about different things.

Their banners were directed against unemployment, Mr Uribe's plans to raise taxes and to change the constitution to allow for his re-election.

Hospitals in many cities were only offering emergency services and law courts were closed.

Many classes across the country were cancelled as teachers joined the protest.

Poverty

The root of the discontent is economic, even though the economy is growing.

The growth of the security forces to cope with the rebels has come at a cost.

Taxes have been raised, but the government needs still more and with half of the population living in poverty, many are struggling to make ends meet.

Mr Uribe is in a tight spot.

The fiscal deficit is climbing, but his security policy needs more money to consolidate the gains in combating the violence.




SEE ALSO:
Profile: Alvaro Uribe Velez
25 Oct 03  |  Americas
Bill could give Uribe fresh term
15 Apr 04  |  Americas
Country profile: Colombia
14 Feb 04  |  Country profiles
Q&A: Colombia's civil conflict
06 May 03  |  Americas


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