Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, a government official, verified by the GDP, reported that in Chile, immigration detention is solely used to conduct deportations of administrative or criminal detainees. Faced with border closures due to the Covid-19 crisis, the governmental source said that they were not aware of any deportations taking place and in consequence, no detention orders had been pronounced either. The Ministry of Interior, however, has indicated that administrative deportations would soon restart and in this sense, it is likely that administrative detention would resume.
The source also said that they were unaware of any detainees being released from administrative detention or any measures taken to assist people following release. In addition, no information regarding the testing of detainees was provided by the source. Chile’s borders were closed due to the pandemic, but certain non-citizens were able to leave the country, in coordination with third countries’ consulates.
Agencia Andalou reported that at the start of June, 750 Bolivian, 300 Peruvian, and 200 Colombian nationals had been camping in front of their national consulates for more than a week. These people have been urging their countries to let them return as they have been left stranded and jobless due to border closures and Covid-19. Although Chilean authorities have managed to set-up temporary shelters to protect migrants from the cold, these are now overcrowded and several Covid-19 cases have now been reported amongst migrants. Chile’s Foreign Minister, Teodoro Ribera, stated that he had been in contact with the foreign ministries of other countries urging them to assist their citizens and allow them to return home. The Peruvian government has asked its nationals in Chile to avoid travelling back until a humanitarian flight is organised. Bolivia thanked Chile for its hospitality and said that nearly 700 Bolivian nationals had been repatriated from Santiago in recent weeks. The Colombian government announced that a plane would be sent to Chile to bring back around 200 of its nationals.
On the other hand, the situation for Venezuelan migrants is slightly different. According to the organisation of American States (OAS), Chile is the third country with most Venezuelan migrants and refugees, with 455,494 Venezuelan nationals in the country, representing 30.5 percent of the foreign population. It has been estimated that around 4,000 Venezuelans are seeking to return to their country, but the Chilean government said that for this to be possible, Venezuela had to open its borders. Although most of these Venezuelan nationals have been accommodated in temporary hostels, after weeks of waiting at the door of their embassy, many of them have now been contaminated with Covid-19, and a Venezuelan national died on 2 June, while waiting for his test results.
As regards the country’s prisons, on 17 June, the police (Gendarmeria) reported that 572 detainees and 769 staff tested positive for Covid-19. By the same date, 5 prisoners and 1 staff member had died from the virus. By July, several prisons around the country, including the Tocopilla, La Gonzalina, and Aysén prison have now had many cases of Covid-19.
- Governmental Actor, Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, 18 July 2020.
- Gendarmeria, “Reporte Diario de Contagios (Informacion Confirmada por la Autoridad Sanitaria) y Proceso de Vacunacion,” 17 June 2020, https://html.gendarmeria.gob.cl/doc/reportecovid_17062020.pdf
- Noticias por el Mundo, “Autoridad Sanitaria Confirmó Brote de Covid-19 en Carcel de Tocopilla, ” 4 June 2020, https://noticiasporelmundo.com/autoridad-sanitaria-confirmo-brote-de-covid-19-en-carcel-de-tocopilla-noticias-chile
- Noticias por el Mundo, “Gendarmería Confirma Nuevos Casos de Covid-19 en Cárcel de Rancagua,” 6 June 2020, https://noticiasporelmundo.com/gendarmeria-confirma-nuevos-casos-de-covid-19-en-carcel-de-rancagua-noticias-chile
- L. Veloso, “Diputados Denuncian Brotes Covid-19 en Cárceles de Aysén y Valparaíso: Emplazan a Justicia y Salud,” Biobiochile.cl, 17 July 2020, https://www.biobiochile.cl/noticias/nacional/region-de-valparaiso/2020/07/17/diputados-denuncian-brotes-covid-19-carceles-aysen-valparaiso-emplazan-justicia-salud.shtml
- A. A. Cordoba, “El Drama de los Inmigrantes Sudamericanos Varados en Chile a Causa del Coronavirus,” Agencia Andalou, 8 June 2020, https://www.aa.com.tr/es/mundo/el-drama-de-los-inmigrantes-sudamericanos-varados-en-chile-a-causa-del-coronavirus/1869632
- Peruvian Migrants Camping Outside the Peruvian Embassy in Santiago, (Coordinadora Nacional de Inmigrantes de Chile, “El Drama de los Inmigrantes Sudamericanos Varados en Chile a Causa del Coronavirus,” Agencia Andalou, 8 June 2020, https://www.aa.com.tr/es/mundo/el-drama-de-los-inmigrantes-sudamericanos-varados-en-chile-a-causa-del-coronavirus/1869632)