Mass Migration

Panama Installs Barbed Wire Fencing in Darien Gap to Block Migrants

Main image to the post Panama Installs Barbed Wire Fencing in Darien Gap to Block Migrants

Panama has taken measures to impede the journey of U.S.-bound migrants by setting up barbed wire fencing along the Darien Gap, a critical land bridge between South America and Panama, leading to concerns and apprehension among those attempting to cross through the dense jungle. While Panama's Ministry of Public Security, headed by Minister Frank Abrego, has claimed responsibility for the new installations, videos shared on WhatsApp depict migrants successfully navigating around the barriers, with some even receiving guidance from smugglers on open routes.

The Darien Gap, characterized by its challenging terrain of mountains, marshes, and rainforest, spans 30 miles wide and 100 miles long, serving as a significant passageway for an estimated half-million U.S.-bound migrants in 2023. Recent migration data from Panama's National Migration Service reveals that since the beginning of the year, around 197,389 individuals have traversed the Darien Gap, with an additional 27,375 making the arduous journey in the month of June alone, primarily stemming from countries like Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, and China. Newly elected President José Raúl Mulino has made addressing the issue of slowing migration through the Darien Gap a top priority, underlining the political significance attached to the region.

In light of increased cooperation between the U.S. and Panama to tackle immigration concerns, the White House National Security Council has clarified that the U.S. was not involved in the erection of the barriers in Panama. Despite this, an agreement was announced between the two countries aimed at assisting Panama in the identification and repatriation of migrants found to be illegally present in the region, with the ultimate goal of curbing irregular migration and disrupting illicit smuggling networks preying on vulnerable individuals.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09