‘Chile is sick,’ archbishop laments after death of homeless immigrants

homeless Credit: Pixabay

With the recent death of three homeless Venezuelan immigrants who perished in a shipping container, Archbishop Fernando Chomali of Concepción, Chile, said that “Chile is sick” and proposed a way to cure its serious illness.

“As a human being, as a Chilean grandson of migrants, as a Catholic and the archbishop of Concepción, I feel shame and helplessness for the death of three Venezuelans in a container as they were trying to get some warmth,” the prelate said in a letter sent July 19 to the director of the El Mercurio newspaper.

“It’s painful to see the indifference to this news, which confirms that society is seriously ill. It’s so schizophrenic that migrants dying in subhuman conditions and advertising that encourages even buying apartments in Miami coexist in the most natural way,” the archbishop wrote.

The prelate lamented that “we have become accustomed to people dying in the street of cold and hunger and, on the other hand, ostentation in all its forms.”

Three undocumented Venezuelans died July 15 in a container they used as a home from carbon monoxide poisoning from a brazier they were using to provide warmth in the low winter temperatures of the southern hemisphere.

The Bío Bío media outlet in Chile reported that the deceased, two women ages 19 and 21 and a man in his 40s, had been living in the container for nearly five months and were surviving by cutting and selling firewood as well as washing the cars of those who came there.

The container in which they died was next to a bypass in the city of Concepción in an area that functioned as a storage center for companies and that is currently used as a parking lot for buses and trucks.

The archbishop of Concepción also noted that “the effort we make as a Church to support the migrant, the homeless, the abandoned elderly, children whose rights are violated, is remarkable.”

However, he said, “the indifference and apathy of a society that clearly lost its way by ignoring these realities is painful.”

The Chilean prelate noted that “the distance between a small group of people who dominate the social media with their brainy analysis and the large group of those who don’t know if they’re going to eat tomorrow or not is immense.”

Chomali stressed that “shortening the distance is urgent and there is only one way: coming out of yourself, taking a broader look at things and being committed to a clear and effective solidarity.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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