Hundreds of union members marched through the Honduran capital on Wednesday to protest an increase in taxes on goods and services.

"We are protesting because the economic measures approved by the National Congress are lethally affecting the poorest," Daniel Duron, secretary of the UGT union, told reporters.

The fiscal package, which took effect Jan. 2, increased the rate of sales tax from 12 percent to 15 percent, narrowed exemptions and imposed brand new levies on cellphone and Internet service, cable television and residential rents.

The march culminated in downtown Tegucigalpa, outside Congress.

"This is the beginning of a series of actions to make the lawmakers understand that these measures hurt the people, the poorest," Duron said.

Around 70 percent of Honduras' 8.5 million people live below the poverty line.

The legislature approved the tax overhaul last month at the urging of outgoing President Porfirio Lobo and President-elect Juan Orlando Hernandez, both of the right-wing National Party.

Besides the tax hikes, protesters complained about unemployment and a steady increase in violent crime that has left Honduras with one of the highest murder rates in the world. EFE