Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Panama is using barbed wire to try to block a major route for U.S.-bound migrants

By 37ci3 Jul9,2024

In the offer to block US-bound migrantsHe installed barbed wire fences across Panama The Darien GapIt has caused panic among migrants trying to cross the jungle that connects South and Central America – but it doesn’t have to stop them.

Videos of barbed wire barriers appeared on WhatsApp groups on June 27 for people planning to move to the US, prompting users to ask who is behind the move and whether they can still get through the jungle. Since then, the Ministry of Public Security of the Republic of Panama has assumed responsibility for the new facilities.

“The patrol of the national border service has begun to close most of the border crossings,” Panamanian public security minister Frank Abrego said at a press conference during a visit to the Darien Gate on June 28.

The Panamanian government said it has prevented new obstacles "most border crossings."
The Panamanian government said the new barriers closed “most of the border crossings”.Retrieved by NBC News

Abrego said one crossing would remain open, and migrants there would have to present a passport or other form of identification to Panamanian immigration authorities. All of this, he said, is an effort to control the flow of people arriving and prevent organized crime from entering Panamanian cities.

But videos are already circulating on WhatsApp showing migrants walking around the barbed wire fence. In a video seen by NBC News, a large crowd of men, women and children can be seen behind the fence taking turns crawling into a hole dug under the fence and into the jungle.

Smugglers also tell people that nothing has changed.

“Listen to me, everything is active – Carreto, Acandi, Capurgana, Caledonia,” a smuggler said on a WhatsApp group on Sunday, saying popular routes were still open. “Guards have erected a fence along Capurgana, but people are crossing one by one – children, adults, and they are crossing the same way. They have not sent anyone back and they are not sending anyone back.”

“Stop believing the news, they are only trying to stop the flow of migrants,” one smuggler wrote in another WhatsApp group last Tuesday, adding that the only people affected by the barriers were “negative” and “lazy” people.

A family walks through the mud
A Venezuelan migrant family with young children walks through the Columbia section of the Darien Gap on July 27, 2022. Fabio Cuttica / Thomson Reuters Foundation

The only land bridge

The Darien Gap is the only land bridge between South America and Panama, 30 miles wide and 100 miles long of mountains, swamps, and rainforest. About half a million US-bound migrants crossed the divide in 2023.

According to Panama’s National Migration Service, approximately 197,389 people traveled through the Darien Gap since January 1, and approximately 27,375 traveled in June. Migrants from Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and China represented the majority of recent Panamanian migration data shows.

Slowing migration Through the Darien Gap It has become a key issue for the newly elected president of Panama, Jose Raul Mulino. He visited the Darien area days before his official inauguration on July 1.

In a statement to NBC News, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council said that despite increased cooperation between the United States and Panama to fight immigration in the region, the United States is not behind the fence.

“The United States has not supported the Government of Panama to build barriers on its borders,” but said the Panamanian government “has the right to protect its borders.”

Stranded migrants from Cuba, Haiti and several African countries arrived on July 31, 2021 in Capurgana, Colombia, near the border with Panama.
Stranded migrants from Cuba, Haiti and several African countries arrived on July 31, 2021 in Capurgana, Colombia, near the border with Panama. Joaquin Sarmiento/AFP via Getty Images

The press secretary pointed to one issue agreement Last week, between the United States and Panama, the Panamanian government will help the removal and return of migrants who are illegally present in the region.

“By returning such individuals to their countries of origin, we will help prevent illegal migration in the region and at our southern border and stop the growth of vicious smuggling networks that prey on vulnerable migrants.” MTN said In a statement announcing the deal on July 1.

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By 37ci3

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