IQUIQUE – Chile’s government has adopted an aggressive approach to the migrant crisis in the Tarapacá region. On Feb. 10, 2021, the country shipped off its first flight of deportees. Meanwhile, health authorities said that undocumented people will not be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, after a clip on Peruvian television suggested otherwise.
Chilean authorities did not hesitate to deport illegal immigrants this week, despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis that still affects most of the world. President Sebastián Piñera announced the deployment of army troops to Colchane’s border last month, to contain the number of people crossing the Chile-Bolivia border illegally. According to Interior Minister Enrique Delgado, illicit crossings near the town have now plummeted from 300 per day to just 45.
The Interior Minister was joined by his Defense and Foreign Affairs peers in Iquique yesterday to see off a flight that carried 87 immigrants originating from Colombia and Venezuela. In addition, two buses headed to Peru and Bolivia with 52 other deportees. Delgado said “this is a notification that we are sending as the government of Chile to those people who enter illegally, because their destination will clearly be deportation.”
Álvaro Bellolio, the head of Chile’s Immigration Department, told Cooperativa that “in addition to today’s flight, we are finishing the tender for 15 charter flights.”
Completamos una intensa jornada de trabajo en la Región de Tarapacá donde abordamos especialmente la situación migratoria que afecta a la Macro Zona Norte.
Más detalles 👇 pic.twitter.com/wd9NedK4li
— Rodrigo Delgado Mocarquer (@RodrigoDelgadoM) February 10, 2021
No coronavirus protection for the undocumented
Foreign Affairs Minister Andrés Allamand also quickly shut down rumors about medical tourism, after a newsclip from Peruvian television showed Chile as an easy destination to get the coronavirus vaccine.
In response, the Chilean Health Ministry issued a resolution confirming that only “those who hold Chilean citizenship, definite residence, a residence visa, student visa or visa subject to a contract, or those who have a temporary or permanent visa request, excluding those in transit in the country on a tourist visa” will be eligible for the vaccine. The resolution effectively bars undocumented people from accessing the vaccine in Chile and potentially adds extra pressure on an already vulnerable group. Allamand told the press “a humanitarian vision clearly exists, and we are urging those with an irregular status to do the paperwork.”
Francisco is finishing his degree in Journalism at Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago.