Foreign Affairs Minister Teodoro Ribera was at Arturo Merino Benítez airport in Santiago this morning to say goodbye to 180 Colombian citizens who have been stranded in Chile and are now traveling home thanks to a public-private effort.
The flight, coordinated by the Foreign Affairs Ministries of the two countries and financed by the company CCU, took off at 10 am and will come back from Bogotá this afternoon with around 60 Chileans who have previously been unable to return home due to the crisis generated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When ninety-five per cent of flights are not operating normally and the skies are closed, it’s necessary to join forces and work with governments and companies. This flight is the result of public-private collaboration. The Foreign Affairs Ministries of Colombia and Chile have coordinated to bring together the passengers, open the borders, authorize the landings and basically arrange everything needed for the flight to operate. Meanwhile, the company CCU and its Colombian subsidiary have wholly financed this flight,” explained Foreign Affairs Minister Teodoro Ribera.
“We are enormously grateful to the Government of Chile and the companies CCU and Central Cervecera de Colombia, who have made this return journey possible,” highlighted the Minister Counselor of the Colombian Embassy, Hatem Dasuky.
Speaking on behalf of the Colombian passengers on the flight, Maribel Ramírez also expressed her thanks for the arrangements made: “A thousand thank yous to everybody who has contributed to this effort. Many thanks to Claudia Blum and Foreign Affairs Minister Teodoro Ribera. All I can do is give you my heartfelt thanks until we return to this country again.”
Meanwhile CCU Corporate Affairs Manager Marisol Bravo highlighted the opportunity for the company to support the operation. “Thank you to everyone for getting us involved, so we could help to put a smile on the faces of all those people from Colombia and Chile who wanted and needed to get back to their countries. I think that many praiseworthy activities like this one are happening but there is still scope for other organizations to get involved and continue collaborating.”
Minister Ribera said that the Foreign Affairs Ministry is continuing to work hard to arrange flights to allow foreigners and Chileans to be returned to their respective countries, thanks to contributions from the private sector and public coordination. Since March 18, over 60,000 Chileans and 50,000 foreigners with permanent residence here have come home.