Hundreds of Venezuelan migrants have been stuck at Chile’s northern border since April 22. Many of them say they want to return to Venezuela, but Peru is not letting them in. The Peruvian government has now closed its borders to control entry.
Venezuelan migrants have been waiting to cross the Chilean-Peruvian border into Peru since April 22. But the Peruvian government declared a state of emergency on April 26, resulting in the closure of all its borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brasil, and Chile to control the entry of foreigners.
In the last two weeks, the northern border of Arica between Chile and Peru has seen hundreds of migrants, among them pregnant women and children, who want to leave Chile. But Tacna, the Peruvian border town, is not admitting them in.
Tacna’s mayor, Pascual Güisa, said Chilean President Gabriel Boric is not taking the appropriate measure to handle the situation. “Hopefully the Chilean public will think twice and elect officials who are up to standard … We must not let unmentionable – and excuse me, irresponsible – Chileans, like their president, move the problems to the border,” Güisa said in an interview with CNN Chile.
In response to Güisa’s comment, Chile’s Minister of Interior and Public Safety, Carolina Tohá said Chile is dealing with the migration challenge everyvday, and the country has the responsibility to not only maintain the safety within its territory but also the rights of those who are involved.
“Comments like that don’t help the situation we have in front of us,” Tohá said of Tacna mayor’s statement.
“The only thing we’re asking Peru is to let us pass through because we need to return to our homes … You can’t take away our rights to return home,” said one of the Venezuelan migrants in an interview with CNN Chile.
President of Chile’s lower house of Congress, Vlado Mirosević, brought up the possibility of creating a humanitarian corridor to ease the flood of migrants at the border. The city of Arica’s mayor, Gerardo Espíndola, also had suggested the same proposal.
Espíndola told Radio Pauta that he warned the Interior Ministry last November of the outflow of undocumented migrants wanting to leave Chile. He said there is a need to establish a humanitarian corridor to allow people to return to Venezuela with coordination from Chile’s northern neighbors.
Chongyang Zhang is pursuing an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s program in journalism, media and globalisation. His interest lies in the relations among the United States, Latin America and China. He is currently doing an exchange semester at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.