A Venezuelan woman died this Tuesday while crossing the steep border between Chile and Bolivia, thus becoming the sixth migrant to die in an unauthorized passage so far this year.
The 59-year-old victim was traveling with his family and was crossing the border crossing between the small town of Colchane (Chile) and Pisiga (Bolivia), in an Andean area more than 3,600 meters above sea level.
Despite the extreme temperatures and the covid-19 pandemic, this part of the border has become in recent months a common route for foreigners to arrive in Chile irregularly.
“I want to call on the Government to strengthen the diplomatic channel and the steps that allow controlling the irregular entry of migrants”, urged the mayor of Colchane, Javier García, in statements to the local press.
The entry in February and March of more than a thousand foreigners, mainly Venezuelans, caused shortages and clashes, in addition to the collapse of the health system, which forced the installation of preventive quarantine camps for migrants.
In response, the Chilean government authorized the deployment of the Armed Forces and, in parallel, hastened the approval of a new immigration law that facilitates expulsions and has received a barrage of criticism from human rights organizations.
A month ago, and based on this new rule, the Executive began a deportation process with which it intends to deport more than 1,500 foreigners in 2021 and chartered a first plane to Venezuela with 55 people who were expelled from the country.
From the UN, they urged the Government to stop these procedures “immediately” and warned that expulsions were being carried out without evaluating the cases and without offering foreigners effective access to justice.
While for the ruling party the new immigration law is a way to face the growing migratory phenomenon, the detractors argue that the hardening of conditions at the borders leads to an increase in migrants crossing through unauthorized crossings.
Despite the pandemic and the social crisis that lasted for more than a year, Chile continues to be one of the most attractive countries to migrate within Latin America due to its political and economic stability.
According to the Department of Immigration and Migration, there are 1.4 million migrants in Chile, which is equivalent to more than 7% of the population and Venezuelans are the most numerous, followed by Peruvians, Haitians and Colombians.