RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Bolivian Government expressed its “unwavering” support to the three military men arrested and imprisoned for alleged theft in Chile and ratified that it would provide legal and consular assistance.
The Bolivian Ministry of Defense stated in this sense a day after the Chilean court determined the preventive detention for 90 days of the Bolivian uniformed men.
The Bolivian institution expressed “its unwavering support to the three compatriots detained by Carabineros of Chile when they were carrying out high-risk military operations” in the fight against smuggling, an aspect that was “exposed and duly grounded by the defense” of the uniformed.
The communiqué reiterates that the Bolivian Defense and Foreign Ministries will provide “legal support and consular assistance” to the soldiers and their families.
The Bolivians were arrested last Wednesday at the northern border of Chile with Bolivia and face charges for alleged crimes of robbery with intimidation and carrying firearms and ammunition.
After being denounced in the Chilean commune of Colchane by three alleged victims who alleged that their vehicles had been stolen, the three soldiers were intercepted by a border patrol of the Carabineros OS-9 (a unit in charge of investigating criminal organizations) and were captured after an exchange of gunfire.
The Bolivian government maintains that those involved were participating in operations to disrupt smuggling crimes, while Chilean authorities claim that “crimes” were committed in Chilean territory that should be investigated.
In 2017, border incidents similar to the current one were recorded, involving nine Bolivian officials and two Chilean uniformed officers.
Both countries defended when these events occurred in the framework of the fight and prosecution of crimes at the border, such as smuggling.
The Bolivian officers were imprisoned, tried, and expelled from Chile after being detained for 101 days accused of various crimes, while Bolivia returned the two carabineros within two days.
Bolivia and Chile have not had diplomatic relations since 1962, except for a parenthesis from 1975 to 1978, due to the lack of a solution to the centuries-old Bolivian maritime claim to a Pacific port. However, they maintain consulates general in La Paz and Santiago.