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Chile: The Church Calls for ‘Mercy,’ To Facilitate the Entry of Venezuelan Migrants

Humanitarian Crisis on the Border with Peru

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In face of the humanitarian crisis being lived on Chile’s border with Peru, the Episcopal Conference of Chile (CECH), through the Caritas-Chile Social Pastoral and the Chilean Catholic Institute of Migration (INCAMI), has made “a strong appeal for ‘mercy’ and not to restrict the possibilities of entry  of the Venezuelan community,” reported the CECH yesterday, in a press release published on July 30, 2019. The situation on the border of Arica (Chile) with Tacna (Peru) has worsened over the last weeks by the sudden request of a Consular Tourist Visa for Venezuelan migrants to enter the country.
Violation of Human Rights
 In its press release, the Chilean Episcopate laments the demand for such a visa, which “violates the human rights of dozens of people.”
It also explains that the “unforeseen measure has saturated the border posts and Consulates, due to the fact that those who had been displaced for weeks, had no knowledge of the new requirements for entry.”
Moreover, the text points out that in Chile it’s necessary “to rethink the migratory subject, “ given the lack of a law that is adjusted to the new Latin American scene, which is presenting a growing wave of migrants.
In this connection, Catholic organizations are asking “to work jointly to establish an integral policy that will regulate migration and make it possible to address, in the best way, the challenges of people’s transit, especially those displaced by grave political and economic situations.
The Church Cares and Accompanies
 The press release states first of all that the Catholic Church “invites to build a culture of encounter and hospitality,” with hundreds of parishes and communities that “from the first moment have received, attended to and sought strategies to facilitate the process of the migrants’ integration.”
So the Migrant Church Network, made up of INCAMI, Caritas-Chile, the Caritas Social Pastoral Vicariate and the Department of Human Mobilization of the Archbishopric of Santiago, along with other religious organizations that work for migrants in the country, ”care for and accompany migrant persons in shelter houses, care and information centres, job offers, language courses, legal advice centres, seeking instances of integration so that the recipient society gets to know them and receive them as brothers and, at the same time, so that the <migrants> get to know and contribute their traditions and organization to the recipient society.”
Appeal to the Region’s Governments
 As it is a problem that not only involves Chile, the note appeals “to seek solutions that will involve all the region’s governments, especially those that are responsible for Venezuela’s political leadership, to generate ways out of this crisis that bleeds their people.”
The note adds that while “this doesn’t happen, all of us, who form part of Latin America, are morally involved, and our country must help people living the drama of displacement from Venezuela, with reasonable measures in the request for documentation.”
Pope Francis’ Warning
 The press release refers to Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, published last May, in which he warns about the “globalization of indifference” in this scenario, in which migrants “are often the object of negative judgments, as they are considered responsible for the social evils.”
The text also addresses the Authorities to stimulate future decisions on this subject, which should result from “a serene reflection and close look at the persons suffering most,” given that all dispositions have “humanitarian consequences” that affect “children, pregnant women, the elderly, among others (. . . ).”
Finally, the Message stresses “not to engage in unfounded accusations against institutions of the Church, in regard to an implied promotion of the irregular entry of persons in the country,” ratifying the institution’s commitment to comply with the law.

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