Social Issues

Chile wants more cooperation from Bolivia on migrant crisis

Santiago, Mar 15 (EFE).- Chilean President Gabriel Boric on Wednesday accused Bolivia of slowing the repatriation of third-country migrants who enter Chile from Bolivian territory.

“I have instructed our new foreign minister to renew conversations with our neighboring countries, especially with Bolivia, with whom we haven’t had diplomatic relations since 1978 and who nowadays are not carrying out the repatriation of the Venezuelan and Colombian citizens,” he said.

“We have to solve it,” Boric said in the northern border town of Colchane, which has borne the brunt of the surge in migration that began in 2021, before he took office.

On Feb. 27, Chile deployed troops at critical points along its borders with Peru and Bolivia and the presence of the military has resulted in the detention of scores of migrants.

“We have to work on different fronts: the internal front, to facilitate the expulsion of those who have committed crimes, but also an intense diplomatic labor, with Bolivia as with Venezuela, so they receive the citizens who are deported,” Boric said on his first visit to Colchane since taking office a year ago.

The 36-year-old former student leader said that his administration inherited from predecessor Sebastian Piñera a “very large” backlog of pending deportations.

Each deportation costs the government 2.7 million pesos (more than $3,200), he said.

Interior Minister Carolina Toha said Wednesday that legal changes are needed to enable authorities to expedite the 21,000 pending deportations.

“Today, to make an expulsion effective, there is a window of 48 hours from when it’s ordered until it’s executed. If it’s not executed in 48 hours, the expulsion decree expires and the person is released and later you have to look for him or her again to expel the person,” she said.

The 1.4 million migrants in Chile amount to a little more than 7 percent of the population. By country of origin, Venezuelans are the largest group, ahead of Peruvians, Haitians, and Colombians. EFE


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