alica rehakova he still has alive the image of the theft of his vehicle on one of the highways in the wealthy eastern sector in Santiagowhen a group of criminals blocked her way and forced her to get out of her car with her two children.

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«I was left barefoot with my children on the road, it was very intimidating, although the people from the cars behind me helped me and took us to a police station,» she told TIME this Slovak businesswoman who has lived in Chile for more than a decade, attracted by the security and tranquility for foreign investors.

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“I arrived in Chile because it was a country with many new possibilities and security 13 years ago was also different, one was not afraid to walk down the street with a cell phone or to go in the car in the afternoon. Today the feeling is different and that is very sad,» says Rehakova, who was the victim of one of the 10,755 «lock-ins» in the last year in which criminals corner drivers moving on highways or busy roads to steal their car. .

The most recent balance delivered by Carabineros, this type of crime occurs more in the most popular communes of lChilean capital and 46.8% of the detainees are children or adolescents.

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The figures show this growing phenomenon of crime in a country that until years ago was considered a “haven of security”. According to the Cadem survey, 80% of Chileans are afraid of delinquency, a record number in this type of questions in the country. In addition, 87% of those surveyed believe that they have noticed insecurity.

Despite the fact that the figures in various crime rates continue to lag behind other countries in Latin America, The feeling among Chileans is that the situation has worsened.

«These are criminals who use minors, because they cannot be charged and tend to be more risky when it comes to violence and making a name for themselves in the criminal world, uploading their criminal experiences even to social networks,» he told EL TIEMPO , the security expert Eduardo Labarca, who points out that 20 years ago, Chile had the levels of violence of Anglo-Saxon countries in Europe. «It used to be an extremely safe country, but in the last decade the situation has changed.»

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Chilean President Gabriel Boric.

An opinion shared by Deputy Leonardo Soto, of the Socialist Party, who points out that the geographical location of the South American country shielded it for decades from the criminal phenomena that plagued most Latin American countries.

“Chile has always been a very isolated country due to the mountains and had a reality that was very different from the rest of the continent, particularly Central America. It was always a calm, peaceful country where people did not carry weapons, but this has changed a lot in recent years. years”, the member of the Constitution, Legislation and Justice commission of the Chamber of Deputies told EL TIEMPO.

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terror of the slamming gates

As its name indicates, the «slamming doors» It is a type of crime that occurs at the door of the victim’s house, which has raised the feeling of insecurity among the Chileans and foreigners residents facing increased attacks on vehicles as they wait to enter through the gate.

“When I got home I was going to park, and I see a car in the mirror, I see that they get out and yell at me and point a gun at me to get me out. They took my chain off, they took a jacket, my wallet, my documents, and they took the car with my dog ​​inside,» Mónica Domínguez, who recently suffered a «gate» in the Ñuñoa commune, located in the eastern sector of Santiago.

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Domínguez recounts that, after this episode, he was so insecure that all the cars that approached him were suspects. «It’s a feeling of fear all the time, any noise you hear in your house, you feel that thieves have entered.»

It is a feeling of fear all the time, any noise you hear in your house, you feel that thieves have entered

Both Mónica and Alica agree on the need for a «strong hand» to stop crime that has reached alarming levels in recent years and has become one of the main challenges for the government of Gabriel Boric, who celebrated his first term yesterday. term year.

“If we are not capable of improving security, of recovering our neighborhoods, our Public spaces, It is difficult for us to be able to speak in depth about the major reforms that we have in mind,» said the head of state when announcing the four bills to deal with the security crisis that the country is going through, ranging from the Criminal prosecution in cases of hired assassins, up to the increase in sentences in cases of kidnapping.

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Six months ago, the Boric government created the National Center for the Prevention of Homicide, in which, he assures, not only will the statistics be measured but also the contexts in which these crimes occur, as he told EL TIME, the Undersecretary for Crime Prevention, Eduardo Vergara.

«Homicides have been rising in Chile, unfortunately, significantly since 2016. In 2020 the country will make the biggest jump compared to the previous year,» he says.

Vergara affirms that this year they will start pilot programs in the territories where they have seen the largest increases in terms of crime and that the element that helps them explain the increase in homicides has to do with the greater presence of weapons on the streets. «At the end of last year, 18,000 weapons were destroyed and we will continue on this path because we understand that complex phenomena like this require a very strong State response, and to govern security with actions and not with words,» says the Chilean official. .

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Truckers protest in Chile for insecurity (file photo).



foreign bands

For some experts, the growing power of drug trafficking gangs and the increase in the circulation of weapons on the streets has been accelerated by the entry of criminal groups that enter camouflaged among the immigrants who have arrived in the country in recent years and have become masterminds or perpetrators of crimes such as hit men and kidnapping for extortion, which were not common in Chile.

According to the Metropolitan Special Police Investigation Brigade, of the 76 arrested for kidnappings in 2022, 44 were of Venezuelan nationality, 23 Chileans and 9 Colombians. «The number of foreign gangs in our country has warned and many Chilean foreign organizations are hiring foreign organizations to provide security for them and pay them to commit hitmen and kidnappings,» warns Labarca, a security and investigations advisor.

According to Carabineros, last year 508 kidnappings were registered in Chile, a figure that represents 79% more than in 2021. Most of the cases are concentrated in the Metropolitan region, while complaints of robberies increase by 39% during 2022 compared to the previous year.

“For me it is very sad because I love this country very much, my children grew up here, I have investments in Chile, but now it is becoming so complicated that one cannot focus well on what one is doing because one has to worry all the time about the security or to resolve issues of stolen wallets and cell phones, and to be on the lookout for scams”, the businesswoman Alica Rehakova, who longs for the security of the country she arrived in 2010, and which a decade later seems to be vanished, told EL TIEMPO


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