Trucker's death during row with migrants in Chile spurs new protests

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SANTIAGO, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Demonstrators protesting migration and rising crime blocked roads in northern Chile on Friday, the day after a trucker fell from a bridge and died during an argument with immigrants, who were later arrested.

Truckers blocked roads around the northern mining cities of Antofagasta and Iquique, as well as other nearby towns. Flights in Iquique were suspended again as they were at the end of January, when truckers blocked roads in that city to protest crime and migration from Venezuela.

Union leaders for the protesting truckers held a teleconference with Chile's President Sebastian Pinera and the Interior Minister.

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"There is a call to dialogue and to understand that with dialogue ... we are going to have good results in terms of public order and security," said Maximo Pavez, a representative of the president's office.

"We call on local actors, unions, local political authorities to understand that violence is not the path to resolving our differences," said Pavez.

Despite pandemic restrictions, migrants from Venezuela and elsewhere have kept arriving in Chile, one of the wealthiest countries in a region rocked by protests over entrenched inequality.

Many impoverished migrants arrive in Chile and set up tents in squares and other public spaces. Some local residents blame the newcomers for a spike in crime.

Police are investigating the death of the young truck driver on Thursday.

Migration and crime were big voter concerns in presidential elections late last year, which were won by Gabriel Boric, 35, a leftist lawmaker and former student protest leader who comes into office in March.

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Reporting by Fabian Andres Cambero; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by David Gregorio

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