After the Government of Chile reinstated the requirement that people must undergo a PCR test -which must come out negative- to get across the border crossings through the Andes, some 2,000 lorry drivers have been lining up along the Cristo Redentor-Los Libertadores international crossing, which links Mendoza to Valparaíso.
The drivers complain about how Chilean border authorities treat those of them who test positive. They are kept locked up in rooms for hours and without any food, one protester said.
Tourists were the first affected by Chile's decision. Humberto Lepe, provincial delegate of the Chilean commune of Los Andes, Saturday ordered that there will be no passage of people, only cargo. The international crossing had reopened Jan. 4.
In a statement on Twitter, Chilean authorities at the border's customs post announced that only cargo vehicles would be let through Tuesday and Wednesday. Tourists would only be served from 8 am to 2 pm and only those willing to return to their countries. There was no restriction to tourists traveling by plane or sea.
The Mendoza Truck Owners Association (APROCAM) warned that there could be millionaire losses if the excessive measures imposed by Chile on the border continue and suggested all freight services to Chile be cut.
“We want a concrete measure that solves not only the delays, but also the treatment that the drivers are receiving, who have been locked up in tiny rooms without medical attention and for several hours. Until there is a response from the neighboring country, we suggest that companies not send cargo to Chile, said Aprocam President Daniel Gallart. And not a single lorry has crossed for two days, according to press reports.
Until Saturday, Chile carried out a random antigen test but now made it mandatory for everyone wishing to go across the border, which has significantly affected imports and exports. It is a real health and economic headache, said Mario Bustos Carra, general manager of the Chamber of Foreign Trade. There is an increase in logistics costs that this situation demands, he went on.
Under normal circumstances, between 800 and 1,000 trucks go daily through the Cristo Redentor path. At the rate currently allowed in order to apply the mandatory PCR testing, only as many as 240 trucks could go through each day, provided all of them come out negative. Hence, Cargo transport to Chile is practically stopped.” Truckers also fear contagion ight take place in the middle of the Andes while waiting to get tested.
From Aprocam they insist Chile imposing arbitrary measures was not something new, while Argentina continues to be open to tourists.