Santiago de Chile, Oct 2 (EFE).- People in large numbers held pro and anti-migration rallies in Chile Saturday amid a crisis sparked by the entry of thousands of undocumented immigrants, triggering tension between locals and foreigners.
Holding Chilean flags and saucepans, hundreds of people protested against the entry of irregular migrants into Iquique, 1,700 km north of the capital.
Hundreds of foreigners have been camping for weeks in the port city.
Some distance away, dozens of people held a march against xenophobia a week after a mob attacked and burned the belongings of a group of homeless Venezuelans evicted from a makeshift camp.
The marches in the north passed without the two opposing groups crossing each other’s paths and any major incident, Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado.
He said several groups of migrants were “warned and evacuated to avoid friction with the protesters.”
Clashes took place in Santiago, where people had gathered for a march against irregular migration.
One person suffered stabbing wounds, and police detained 11 protesters, the Carabineros police said.
Despite the pandemic, Chile continues to be one of the most favorite destinations for migration in Latin America due to its political and economic stability and its high level of vaccination against Covid-19.
Undocumented migrants have flooded the north of Chile, causing a severe crisis that worsened recently.
The government has installed camps and shelters in Colchane and Huara, two small border towns, and Iquique.
Iquique, located in the Atacama desert, is the first large city and first stop for migrants before moving to other parts of Chile.
The government has begun a campaign to stop the irregular entry of foreigners.
Earlier this year, it approved a new, stricter migration law and began a deportation process to send back 1,500 migrants in 2021.
Global nonprofits Amnesty International and the United Nations have criticized the measure, warning that the expulsions do not have the basic judicial guarantees.
According to the Department of Immigration and Migration, there are 1.4 million migrants in Chile, equivalent to more than 7 percent of its population.
Venezuelans top the number, followed by Peruvians, Haitians, and Colombians. EFE