US to pay Panama to close Central American migration route

In its columns, The Country America describes the territory which separates Colombia from Panama in these terms: “Darién is hell on earth, a steep and impassable terrain crossed by fast-flowing rivers. This dense jungle was once considered impenetrable, but the uninterrupted flow of migrants has changed that.”

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This uninterrupted flow referred to by the Spanish-language media is made up of migrants crossing the border, the first stage of a long journey that should take them to the United States. According to estimates relayed by The Country America, 133,000 of them passed through Darien to reach Panama in 2021, then 248,000 in 2022 and even 520,000 in 2023.

Although the journey is a nightmare, some of these Venezuelan, Ecuadorian, Haitian and Cuban migrants do manage to reach the United States, which has prompted Washington to take action. Monday, 1er July, announcement CNN, “The United States and Panama have signed an agreement that aims to ‘close the passage of illegal migrants’ across the Darien”. This provides that “The US government is committed to covering the cost of repatriating migrants who entered illegally through Darien,” the American media then specifies by directly quoting a statement from the government of Panama.

The agreement also provides that the United States will support Panama by providing it with “equipment, transport and logistics” necessary to stop foreigners who violate THE “Panamanian immigration laws”.

“Shift the problem to Colombia”?

As specified The Country America, Panama’s decision comes amid the arrival of José Raúl Mulino as president. The conservative politician, who won elections in May, was sworn in on May 1er July, and this official announcement constitutes a notable change in immigration management for Panama.

“Until now, rather than an effort of reception and integration, the Panamanian authorities have opted for a policy of controlled flow, details the Spanish-speaking media. Once the migrants had crossed the jungle, the authorities would facilitate the transfer of migrants from its southern border to its northern border, to allow them to continue their journey.”

Now this should no longer be the case, but Mulino’s attitude may simply “transfer the problem to Colombia”, warns The Country America, which concludes by anticipating a “climate of tension and confrontation” which could develop between these two countries.

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