Brian has been living on the street for a month in the northern city of Iquique Chile.
The 21-year-old Venezuela entered the country randomly through a small town Colcan, Located a few kilometers from the Bolivian border.
He continued to look for work because the situation in his country had become “unsustainable.”
But in Chile he saw a reality far beyond what he had dreamed of.
Without a place to sleep, there is no other option but to settle in a tentBrazil square, At the IQQ Center, from the past Friday, September 24th He was evicted by police in an action that included protests, demonstrations and 14 detainees.
Wandering the streets again, Brian saw a parade of anti-immigrant protesters the next day (Saturday, September 24).
“I kept what I was wearing, I had nothing. It was horrible,” he told BBC Mundo over the phone.
“I was so scared”
This is a devastating film that has gone around the world.
Crowds of protesters were burned as cushions, blankets, clothes, baby toys and even diapers belonging to a group from Venezuela chanted slogans against foreigners.
The Punishment for acts of violence It did not take long for them to arrive, from individuals and organizations led by Sebastian Pinera to representatives of the federal government..
But three days after the events, none of this is reassuring to Brian, who says he was hurt by what happened.
They threw rocks, bottles, everything at us. People, instead of helping, registered on their phones; It was like a Show For them. We are humiliated, we are treated like animals, we are treated like garbage, ”he says.
“Since you are Venezuela, you have gone through thousands of things and it is very sad that they treat you like this,” he adds.
Was with Brian that day Moyes, And Venezuela. The young man came to Chile six months ago, has not yet found a job or left Iquique.
“I was so scared. There were boys, girls, pregnant women, the elderly … we all had to flee to the beach because our tents, suitcases, our clothes all started to burn,” he recalled to BBC Mundo.
After the parade, Mois says, they wandered the streets all night.
“We are looking for a solution, but nothing. No one has given us the opportunity to stay in a small house or something. Now we continue to walk down the street and look for people to help us move forward,” he says.
“We had to run”
There were some blocks from Brian and Moses Gabriela, Another Venezuelan, 25 years old.
The woman arrived in Chile the same Saturday, via the Colcan Pass and irregularly.
“A policeman came up to me and said:‘ Here comes the parade because they are taking your belongings, ’he recalled.
“Along with another Venezuelan who was with her children, we snatched our belongings, we had to run with the kids, with the bags, everything. We didn’t know where to run, we were so scared.
Gabriela walked two blocks north. She had no idea where she ended up, but she was hiding in an alley.
“I felt a lot of fear, I felt unwelcome …. It was a crazy thing. Some friends were attacked, others burned tents, it was so ugly,” he adds.
Lived a similar experience Mauricio, 22 years old. The young man left Venezuela on September 10, after crossing several countries in 10 days, and arrived in Chile a week ago (also via Irregular and Colcan).
“When I found out what was going on, I caught up with my family, my brother, my sister-in-law and my daughter-in-law.
“I’m scared because we do not know what others can do. Yesterday (Monday, September 27) I was on the street and a threatening man passed by.
Brian, Moise, Gabriella and Mauricio have been part of the wave of immigrants who have come to Chile over the past 10 years.
Increased from foreigners 305,000 in 2010 (This corresponds to 1.8% of the total Chilean population) approx 1.5 million in 2020 (7.5% of the population), according to the organization Servicio Jesuda a Micrant (SJM), which compiles data from the National Statistics Agency (INE) and the Chilean Department of Immigration and Emigration.
This is partly explained by the strong increase in Venezuelan immigration, which went from being a community 8,000 in 2012 to 500,000 in 2020.
According to INE estimates, the Venezuelan population is the largest group of foreigners in Chile (30.5%), Peruvians (15.8%) and Haitians (12.5%).
The new migration wave is a strong challenge for Chile, where action must be taken against the clock to try to change its integration policies.
Significant social changes have also taken place: due to the high concentration of foreigners, the population profile of many cities has changed, especially in the north and near the borders. Peru and Bolivia, Of them, Iquique.
“We know we’re annoying.”
Many foreigners live on the streets in dangerous conditions, without access to employment or the opportunity to regulate their immigration status.
And it has caused friction with the locals.
“I understand the Chileans have their own laws. I respect them. But many immigrants are in despair For example, not everyone has 500 pesos (50 cents) to pay for a public bathroom. I want to use that money to buy food and give it to the children instead of spending it in the bathroom, ”says Mauricio.
“We know we get annoyed when we’ve on the street. I do not like sleeping on the street, it’s ugly, there’s a lot of racism, people don’t like us,” Brian adds.
“We need money to pay for a room. Also, many times they say to you: ‘Are you Venezuelan? No, I can not lease you.’ So they do not help us.
“When they say we are guilty, we are humiliated,” Moises adds. “Because we are workers, we do not want to cause trouble to anyone. All we want is to work, raise a family, help them and achieve our goals and dreams.
“More people with good intentions”
Today many of these Venezuelans receive help from outreach organizations and the Catholic Church.
They are provided with food and clothing and are housed in some makeshift shelters.
“Many Chileans help us. The good side is more than the bad side, ”he said.
Gabriela has the same opinion. “There are a lot of good people here. Not all Chileans are the same. There are a lot of good-hearted people,” said Murcio.
For this reason, women have not lost hope that they will find a better future in Chile than in Venezuela.
“I’m going to move to Santiago, there will be opportunities, I’m sure. My whole family is waiting for me, my sisters and my relatives, I already have a job,” he adds.
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