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Chile’s Presidential Candidate José Kast Wants to Shut Down Border with Bolivia over Drug Trafficking

By: Karina Martín - Oct 19, 2017, 9:50 am
(Flickr)
“To stop drug trafficking, we should close the border with Bolivia to combat the free flow of drug mules and vehicles smuggling drugs,” Presidential candidate José Antinio Kast recently tweeted. (Flickr)

EspañolOne of Chile’s presidential candidate doesn’t like how Bolivia has been handling the region’s drug trafficking problem, and has a drastic idea for addressing it — closing the border.

“To stop drug trafficking, we should close the border with Bolivia to combat the free flow of drug mules and vehicles smuggling drugs,” Presidential candidate José Antonio Kast recently tweeted. The former congressman said it would be the most effective way of preventing cocaine from entering Chile.

In particular, he expressed his disapproval of Bolivia President Evo Morales — the former President of the coca union in the country — who Kast described as “the principle accomplice of drug trafficking.”

Tweet: To stop drug trafficking, we should close the border with Bolivia to block the free entry of drug mules and vehicles carrying drugs 

Tweet: “Chile has the right to close its borders to drugs, drug mules, and drug dealers who come from Bolivia. It is urgent that we stop them” he went on

Kast also proposed increasing resources for the detection and control of drug trafficking by strengthening the country’s Investigative Police, common police forces — known as Carabineros — and Customs agencies.

Kast’s comments have been met with a fair share of criticism, however. His opponents have pointed out that closing the border would not only affect transit, but also vital trade with Bolivia. Additionally, a 1994 treaty between the two countries  guarantees the free passage of Bolivian goods to Chilean ports.

Bolivia’s Minister of Government Carlos Romero said Kast is still a relatively unknown candidate that “needs the media scandal to gain notoriety.”

“Given the high prevalence of drug use in Chile, it would be good to give him a drug test,” Romero said. “I think that may explain the kind of guesswork that this little-known candidate is doing.”

But Kast took Romero up on the challenge, passing a hair test for recreational drug use, and then countered by asserting that all high-standing officials, including the President and congressmen, should be subject to drug tests and removed from office if they fail.

He singled out Morales for this challenge.

“I would like to tell the Bolivian minister that I have already done a hair test, and I am waiting to see his and that of the president,” Kast said, “and hopefully all of his cabinet — because we will never cooperate with a country that protects drug trafficking.”

President of the Bolivian Senate José Alberto Gonzales also commented on the idea, calling it “a demagogic and desperate proposal by a candidate who is probably not doing well in the polls and is trying to generate some support.”

“We are not going to fall for the game of a Chilean right-wing politician who isn’t very well known in his country,” Felipe Caceres, Deputy Minister of Social Defense in Bolivia, said.

Other reactions on Twitter

Tweet: Close the borders?? Wouldn’t it be better to regulate what comes in, but closing the borders would not be progress. 

Tweet: Wouldn’t it be better to secure the border with police rather than close it? How would we look in the international community?

Tweet: Lower salaries for politicians to pay for good police work at borders, customs and airports.

Tweet: They would just find a way to come in from somewhere else. No country in the world has been able to eliminate drug trafficking. 

Sources: El Deber; El Dínamo; Publimetro; Jornadanet.

Karina Martín Karina Martín

Karina Martín is a Venezuelan reporter with the PanAm Post based in Valencia. She holds a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages from the Arturo Michelena University.