Venezuela demanded respect for the human rights of Venezuelan immigrants in Chile after an attack in the city of Iquique, in the north of the country. Last Saturday (25), about 3,000 Chileans organized an “anti-immigrant” demonstration to dislodge a camp with about 16 Venezuelan families, burning all their belongings.
Before this, on Friday (24), immigrants had already been evicted by the Chilean military police – the so-called Carabineros – when they camped in Praça Brasil, downtown Iquique.
Iquique is considered a migratory transit city. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), only 18% of immigrants entering Chile through the northern border remain in the region, the vast majority seeking to travel to the capital Santiago.
“Venezuela repudiates xenophobia and aggression against Venezuelan immigrants and demands that Chile’s national and local authorities respect the physical and psychological integrity of our compatriots,” said Vice President Delcy Rodríguez on Sunday (26).
Venezuela repudiates xenophobia and aggression against Venezuelan migrants and demands national and local authorities in Chile to respect the physical and psychological integrity of our connacionals. Pdte @NicolasMature I ordered to activate the Plan Vuelta ala Patria de nuestros [email protected]! https://t.co/UshXZgQOls
— Delcy Rodríguez (@delcyrodriguezv) September 26, 2021
The Bolivarian government has also announced that it will enable a humanitarian flight under the Plan Vuelta a la Patria (Back to the Motherland) for citizens who want to return to the country. The program created in 2019 repatriated around 25,200 Venezuelans free of charge, according to official data.
The Public Ministry of the Chilean state of Tarapacá announced that it will open an investigation to investigate the case and issued a measure to protect the victims. However, local media report that over the weekend migrants had to sleep in other public squares with what they managed to rescue from their belongings.
The state governor, José Miguel Carvajal, said that his “hands are tied” by the lack of resources and that everything depends on the Ministry of Interior. He also stated that immigrants are being assisted by NGOs and a solidarity network that is monitored by the government.
“The government does not give answers. We request transportation to send part of this migrant population to other parts of the country,” he said in an interview to local media.
Chilean Vice President Rodrigo Delgado called the situation reprehensible and that, as a government, they would not support the use of force. However, he did not guarantee immediate support, stating that the delay in activating internalization programs would be justified by the irregular situation of the immigrants.
“We have to create a transport protocol, we have to see how these people can enter places of destination, which effectively have accommodation, but we must also solve administratively so that they can enter jobs. We must have a proposal. this week,” said Delgado.
“Inadmissible humiliation against especially vulnerable immigrants, which affects the most personal aspect. The xenophobic discourse, equating migration with delinquency, unfortunately increasingly frequent in Chile, fuels this kind of barbarism,” declared the UN Special Rapporteur for Migration Rights , Felipe Gonzalez.
Inadmissible humiliation against especially vulnerable migrants, affecting them in the more personal. The xenophobic discourse, assimilating migration to delinquency, which unfortunately has become increasingly frequent in Chile, feeds this class of barbarism. https://t.co/WwCRGIbFxu
— UN Special Rapporteur Migration Felipe González M (@UNSR_Migration) September 25, 2021
THE Unicef Chile he also expressed concern for the plight of immigrants, which include children and adolescents. “We ask the State to guarantee and protect its rights, complying with the international treaties signed by the country,” he declared in a statement.
Likewise, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) urged the administration of Sebastián Piñera to “adopt urgent measures to prevent and eliminate practices of xenophobia, as well as observe the principles of non-discrimination.”
Despite international condemnation, far-right candidate José Antonio Kast encouraged the demonstrations, reiterating his campaign for the November 21 presidential election.
“Our commitment is clear: to close borders and accelerate the expulsion of illegal immigrants” published on their social networks.
Kast, president of Chile’s Republican party, has a chapter in his electoral program called “Dare to Stop Illegal Immigration”, encouraging Chileans to act xenophobic against migrants.
Early in his term, in 2018, President Sebastián Piñera enacted the “democratic responsibility” visa, which encouraged the immigration of Venezuelans. However, only 27% of visa applications were accepted this year.
In February 2019, Piñera was one of the heads of state who participated in the “Venezuela Live Aid” in the city of Cúcuta, on the Colombia-Venezuela border, again reinforcing the speech that the government of Nicolás Maduro had provoked a humanitarian crisis and that the Chile would be willing to receive Venezuelan immigration.
However, with the onset of the pandemic, Piñera suspended the special visa program and, as early as February 2021, the government started an expulsion program for undocumented foreigners, signing a million-dollar contract with Sky Airlines.
Edition: Arturo Hartmann