As migrant squatters in Chile are evicted, there are clashes.
Chilean police clashed with undocumented migrants in Iquique, a Pacific port city, on Friday, evicting hundreds of people who had been camping in a public square for months.
On the Plaza Brasil, about 100 police officers took part in the operation, which left one person hurt and led in five arrests, according to officials.
Thousands of illegal migrants, mostly Venezuelan families, began coming in Iquique a year ago, sleeping in tents on the streets and surviving on charity donations, begging, and odd jobs for money.
After a long journey through Bolivia, many of them came on foot. Many had resided in Peru before going to Chile, and told AFP that they departed because of rising anti-Venezuelan xenophobia there.
On Friday, as police moved in to evict them, several resisted as neighbors looked on, some in support of the cops, others condemning the action.
“It can’t carry on like this,” one neighbor, only named as Mariela, said.
“I had to relocate, and I have been unable to rent out my home since our square has been taken over: people eat and use the restroom there. “It’s impossible to live like this,” she told AFP.
“Neither they nor we have received a solution from the authorities.”
Attempts by AFP to learn where the migrants were brought were met with silence from the authorities.
The evacuation occurred on the eve of a scheduled march against unauthorized migrants in the city.
“The owners said no, simply because we are migrants,” Joselyn, a 30-year-old Venezuelan who declined to give her surname, said many of the squatters had tried to rent properly, but “the owners said no, simply because we are migrants.”
Luis, a 24-year-old Venezuelan migrant, was concerned about their fate.
“They don’t provide us any paperwork and treat us like animals when they kick us out. “Animals aren’t even treated this way,” he explained.
According to local officials and people, crime has grown since the migrants arrived.
The evacuation of these areas is due to the fact that it is illegal to utilize public spaces for recreational purposes to erect temporary dwellings, according to Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado.
Many migrants who enter Chile from the north do so with the assistance of relatives or friends who are already in the country, while others who lack means or even identity papers end up stuck in mining or industrial communities in the north.