Residents of northern Chile marched on the road to protest the increase in crime and violent crimes

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The demonstration was led by inhabitants of Iquique and Alto Hospicio

Neighbors from northern Chile marched on the highway to protest the increase in crime and violent crimes

By

Cristián Torresfrom Santiago, Chile

Neighbors from northern Chile marched on the highway to protest the increase in crime and violent crimes

Demonstrations in the streets of Iquique, in northern Chile, due to the increase in crime and irregular migration.

A hundred inhabitants of Iquique and Alto Hospicio, communes located in the great north of Chile , marched along Route A-16, which connects both cities, demanding greater security in the face of homicides, irregular migration and other violent crimes that occurred in January in the area.

In this way, the demonstrators arrived at the headquarters of the Tarapacá Regional Presidential Delegation, located in the regional capital, “to be able to fight crime, that more police officers take to the streets and that there be a state of emergency”, one of them told the Iquique regional media.

“We don't want any more illegal immigrants in our city,” said one of the canvases that led the march, in which some 4,000 people participated, according to police authorities. Meanwhile, groups of protesters carried Chilean and black flags as they marched through the streets of Iquique, in the Tarapacá region, which is located some 1,800 km north of Santiago, according to local television.

< p class="paragraph">The march, however, also had violent episodes, as it found some foreigners in its path, which started heated discussions. A Venezuelan citizen, for example, was beaten by protesters, but was protected by the Police. As the protest ended, some attacked a migrant camp who were not there. Carabineros de Chile dispersed the groups of protesters and municipal workers took the tents and belongings left behind by the migrants in trucks.

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The demonstration took place after on January 25, seven Venezuelans beat two Chilean police officers who were monitoring them in Iquique. The incident, disseminated through social networks, prompted the latest protests at a time of increasing crime that residents attribute to the flow of immigrants. According to data from the regional Prosecutor's Office, in 2021 in Iquique homicides increased 183%, drug trafficking 42%, migrant trafficking 501%, and robberies with violence and intimidation 18%.

It should be noted that the city of Iquique has already been the scene of protests against immigrants. On September 25, 2021, around 3,000 people marched through the city and set fire to immigrant tents chanting xenophobic chants. Since the end of 2019, the passage of Venezuelans through unauthorized crossings on the border between Chile and Bolivia has increased considerably. Most reach the regional capital without money and have settled in squares, beaches and other public spaces, while others manage to reach Santiago.

Neighbors from northern Chile marched on the highway to protest the increase in crime and violent crimes

Iquiqueños protest in their city

On the other hand, the inhabitants of Alto Hospicio blocked Route 16, located in the El Pampino sector, and which is another of the arteries that connects the aforementioned town with Iquique. According to what was pointed out by the people who seized this sector of the road, the purpose of blocking the road is to publicize the urgency that requires increasing security in the commune. The foregoing, as a result of the high numbers of homicides registered so far in 2023. Specifically, 11 homicides in 30 days.

Given this panorama , the mayor of Alto Hospicio, Patricio Ferreira, reported the suspension of scheduled summer activities until further notice. In addition, he called on the Chilean government to firmly confront and stop these crimes, since Alto Hospicio was the commune in the country with the highest homicide rate in 2022, with 20 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

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