Chile’s immigration crisis is escalating in a wave of fierce clashes and crime

Santa Cruz, Bolivia – Since September last year, fierce encounters with Venezuelan immigrants, locals and police in Chile have continued to urge President Sebastian Pinella, who will retire on February 16, to declare an exception. increase.

“Exceptional conditions allow military and police cooperation with two focal points: drug trafficking and immigrant trafficking,” said Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado.

In addition, local prosecutor Raúl Arancibia published the results of a criminal trend survey conducted by the Ministry of Public Affairs of the Tarapaka region. 183 percent increase In murder between 2020 and 2021. The surge in crime is consistent with the surge in illegal immigrants in the region.

“The situation is getting worse,” Aranchivia said.

The Tarapaka region of Chile in the north is the epicenter of the immigration crisis, and extreme remote areas and lack of patrols make it easy for illegal people to cross the border between Chile and Bolivia.

President Pinella’s declaration was made after the murder of a 25-year-old Chilean truck driver named Byron Castillo Elera, who was thrown by Venezuelan immigrants from an elevated highway after a quarrel on February 10. Walking beside the freeway, he threw a rock at Herrera’s truck and the driver stopped confronting them.

Herrera’s death triggered a three-day road block and protest by fellow truck drivers and sympathizers across the country in the quest for a solution to the country’s growing immigration crisis.

Chile is home to about 500,000 Venezuelan immigrants, a phenomenal increase from just 5,000 eight years ago. Most of the immigrants are concentrated in the Santiago metropolitan area, but many came from the increasingly dangerous Tarapaka region.

Epoch Times Photo
Three Venezuelan migrants living in Pisiga, Bolivia, are waiting to cross the border into Chile on the night of October 25, 2021. (Cesar Calani Cosso / Epoch Times)

Another violent clash occurred on January 26, this year, when four Venezuelan migrants attacked police officers and hit their faces after being asked to show identification at the waterfront in Iquique. did.

In early January, criminals kidnapped and killed a 67-year-old merchant from Iquique after demanding a ransom on the Bolivian side of the border near Colchane, Chile.

Gabrial Bolic, an elected socialist president, accused the case against police of being “unacceptable” and argued that immigration issues need to be a country’s “security priority.”

In response to Herrera’s death, the Government of Pinella also announced the militarization of four states in the Antofagasta and Arica regions to combat the surge in illegal immigrants.

Conflicts between migrants and residents since September 2021 have heightened anti-immigrant sentiment across the country and have become a cry of battle in northern cities.

During the protests in Iquique on January 30, more than 4,000 demonstrators marched around the city with the slogans “Close the border now” and “Stop the sacrifice of criminals”. Did.

“Crime in our city is now ridiculous. There are tent camps everywhere,” Agustinsoto, who lives in Iquique, told The Epoch Times.

According to Soto, the city’s beautiful beaches are becoming immigrant camps, and some of the cities, such as around Brazil Square, do not allow wives and daughters to travel alone because there are too many known Venezuelan immigrants. I have. Harass the locals.

On February 2, Minister Delgado directly accused Bolivian officials of the lack of cooperation on border security, saying: [in working together], There is a lot of indifference in this. “

In addition, Delgado believes that Bolivian police are supporting the coyote, a common term used to describe traffickers, in efforts to smuggle migrants across borders into Chile. He said he was.

Autumn Spredemann


Autumn is a South American-based reporter who focuses primarily on Latin American issues in the Epoch Times.

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