Chile: Piñera’s foreign minister resigned due to his absence in the migration crisis

Chilean Foreign Minister Andrés Allamand has resigned from his post. this Sunday in the midst of the controversy generated by a recent trip of yours to Spain related to an international position to which you were appointed, while the country is going through a migration crisis on the northern border. Allamand’s departure, accused by the opposition of “abandoning their duties”occurs one month after the end of Sebastián Piñera’s mandate and the presidential inauguration of Gabriel Boric.

His trip to Spain, Allamand himself pointed out at a press conference, caused “a series of criticisms that affect the government and incidentally, they intend to discredit the work of the Foreign Ministry”. The hitherto foreign minister assured that “such criticism has not only distorted the activities that he has carried out abroad but has also contributed to inconveniently stressing the political climate.”

In his farewell speech, Allamand also explained that it is the “definitive closure of my long life in national politics”. A 65-year-old lawyer, he was part of the leaders who in 1987 founded Renovación Nacional (RN), Piñera’s right-wing party, of which he was president between 1990 and 1996. He was also a deputy (1994-98), senator (2006- 11 and 2014-20) and Minister of Defense in 2011-12, during Piñera’s first term. He was in charge of Chilean diplomacy since July 2020.

Allamand’s trip raised criticism in Chile for his absence amid the protests of residents of the cities of Iquique and Arica against the massive presence of immigrants, mostly Venezuelans, who cross through clandestine steps from Bolivia and Peru avoiding the little control bordering. Some protesters attacked immigrant camps who they blamed for the increase in crime in those areas. The UN called these protests “acts of discrimination and xenophobia.”

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The first questions from the opposition arose after learning of the meeting that Allamand held last Thursday in Madrid as the elected Ibero-American Secretary General with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of the Government of Spain, José Manuel Albares. According to reports from the government, the undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Carolina Valdivia, will take over as substitute, a little over a month before the end of Piñera’s presidential term.

“I consider the absence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to address the migration crisis to be extraordinarily serious”said the opposition deputy Jaime Naranjo. “How is it possible that a Minister of Foreign Affairs, whose main duty is to look after the interests of the State, is working in Madrid in an international organization?” Congressman Iván Flores asked on social networks.

On Friday, representatives of the governments of Chile and Bolivia decided to implement working groups to find solutions to human trafficking and smuggling of migrants and smuggling that occurs in the inhospitable highlands where the border between the two countries is located. Allamand did not participate in the meeting.

“Faced with the resignation of former Minister Allamand, I ratify that we will work for a present Foreign Ministry, facing problems of citizenship. The defense of Chile’s interests in the world requires exclusive attention,” Antonia Urrejola, who will be foreign minister at the start of Boric’s government, said on social media. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Migration, in Chile there are 1.4 million migrants, which is equivalent to more than seven percent of the populationand Venezuelans are the most numerous, followed by Peruvians, Haitians and Colombians.

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