Chile’s top diplomat resigns after absence during migrant crisis criticized

Santiago, Feb 6 (EFE).- Chilean Foreign Minister Andres Allamand resigned Sunday amid criticism that he was absent from the country while a serious migration crisis developed on the country’s northern border.

Allamand told reporters that his trip to Spain sparked “a series of criticisms that are affecting the government … and, by the way, are trying to discredit the work of the Foreign Ministry. Likewise, such criticism not only has distorted the activities that (the ministry) has carried out abroad but have contributed to inappropriately raising tensions in the political sphere.”

“This moment marks the definitive end of my long career in national politics,” he added.

The first questions from the political opposition were raised after it became known that Allamand was in Madrid last Thursday in his capacity as Ibero-American general secretary-elect to meet with Spanish Foreign Affairs, European Union and International Cooperation Minister Jose Manuel Albares.

In the judgment of his parliamentary opponents, as Socialist Party lawmaker Jaime Naranjo said, Allamand’s trip constitutes a “noteworthy abandonment of his duties” and he refused to rule out pushing forward with further legal and constitutional measures against the National Renewal (RN) politician.

“He should have resigned when he assumed an international post in Madrid and (should not have been) an absent foreign relations minister,” Christian Democratic lawmaker Gabriel Ascencio said at the time.

Meanwhile, the government of Sebastian Piñera sidestepped the criticism saying that the now-former foreign minister had been making use of his legally provided leave to go abroad.

“I know two key things, he is on vacation and he will take over the post he’s going to assume in April. Perhaps he took advantage of doing some work (on that), or the photos (of the meeting) say something else. OK, he will have to clear that up upon his return,” Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado told local media outlets.

According to the government, the deputy foreign relations minister, Carolina Valdivia, will replace Allamand, this coming just a little over a month before the end of Piñera’s presidential term.

Since February 2021, the Cochane and Pisiga Carpa zone located in the altiplano in far northern Chile, has been the epicenter of an immigration crisis that has become more acute over the past three months with, at present, hundreds of undocumented migrants camped out in public spaces in several northern cities.

The migrants, who are living in precarious conditions, have suffered xenophobic attacks by violent groups like the one that took place last September when the attackers burned the tents and personal belongings of a group of Venezuelans after staging an “anti-immigrant” march.

According to Chile’s Foreign Affairs and Migration Department, there are 1.4 million migrants in the South American country, equivalent to more than 7 percent of the population and among whom Venezuelans are the most numerous, followed by Peruvians, Haitians and Colombians.

EFE ssb/eat/bp

Related Articles

Back to top button