Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado this Thursday questioned the government’s version that the Bolivian soldiers detained on Chilean territory were working in the “fight against smuggling”, stating that “there were crimes” that should be investigated.
“We hope that this can be resolved in the necessary way, but there have been crimes here in the state that are also being investigated by the prosecutor,” Delgado told the press.
The minister was responding to a statement by the Bolivian government in which he assured that the uniformed officers involved “are conducting an operation in the Pisiga-Colchane border area to seize vehicles that have illegally entered Bolivian territory”.
“On our side, on the Chilean side, we not only have a testimony, but we also have victim testimony, we have testimony, we have pictures and we have GPS tracking and that makes a big difference when it comes to interpreting reality the Chilean Foreign Minister said.
The events occurred in the early hours of Wednesday in Colchane parish when three suspected border police victims reported the theft of their vehicles by people disguised as soldiers who said they were with the Bolivian army and threatened them with long guns.
Employees of the Carabineros de Chile police found the suspects and, after an exchange of fire, arrested three inmates of one of the vehicles who turned out to be members of the Bolivian army.
Delgado reiterated that the Chilean Foreign Ministry is in fluent communication with its Bolivian counterpart and hopes that the situation can be resolved in the “necessary manner”.
The border crossing between the small Chilean town of Colchane and Bolivia, an Andean region at more than 3,600 meters above sea level with extreme temperatures, has in recent months become a common route for foreigners who arrive irregularly in Chile and have killed at least nine people so far this year.