Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Security Problem Along Bolivia's Border

While the crime rate is down in Chile, it's been climbing in the area of Iquique, one of the largest cities west of Bolivia. In fact, it has the country's highest crime rate. A porous 365-kilometer border has made it easy for drugs to flow into Chile from Bolivia, and for stolen vehicles to enter Bolivia from Chile. Of more than 80 crossings along the border, only three are legal and have police checkpoints. Now, the government is asking Chile's army for help. The plan is to have army engineers dig trenches and other obstacles to slow the flow of traffickers and illegal aliens. Video cameras will be installed to better monitor the region. But officials are getting some pushback from the army. An unnamed representative of the joint chiefs of staff told government officials that the army's doctrine prohibits it from taking part in anti-drug operations. It's not clear if that includes digging obstacles. Indeed, the security along the border is largely the responsibility of the national police. Carabineros act as the border patrol. They now operate a King Air B200G airplane with imaging equipment to watch over the extensive desert region. They could go shopping for more equipment.

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