Panama’S New Leader Is Serious About Sealing Darién Gap

(MENAFN- The Rio Times) When Panama's election results were announced, José Raúl Mulino, the country's new leader, repeated a significant plan.

He intends to close the Darién Gap, a notorious jungle path at the country's southern edge.

This decision aims to curb the flow of migrants from Colombia heading to the United States.

Under the gaze of Chief Justice Alfredo Juncá and his colleagues, Mulino was officially declared president last Thursday.

At the declaration, he pledged to block this 265-kilometer route , crucial for many seeking better lives in the north.

Mulino plans to initiate a repatriation program with international support, adhering to human rights norms.

Panama's New Leader is Serious About Sealing Darién Gap
He stressed that the Darién should be seen not merely as a transit route but as Panama's sovereign border.

This shift in policy will lead to the repatriation of every South American asylum seeker. Mulino's term begins on July 1 and will last five years.

During the past year alone, over 520,000 migrants traversed the Darién Gap, a figure that doubles the previous year's.

About 113,000 children and 328,650 Venezuelans crossed, along with many Ecuadorians, Haitians, Chinese, and Colombians, all attracted to the U.S.

The journey has been deadly, with 62 deaths recorded in 2022 and 34 last year.

Mulino's campaign promise was to transform Panama into a migration barrier, essentially extending the U.S. border to Panama's borders.

Despite this, concerns have arisen. Johann Wachter Espitia from Necoclí, Colombia, expressed fears that closing the gap might lead to major migrant logjams in his region.

Already, a recent influx of over 1,000 people strained local capacities, leading to disorder.

As of early 2024, Necoclí has seen over 65,000 migrants pass through, marking an increase of 20,000 from last year.

Mulino's firm stance on border control spotlights the intricate challenges of migration, security, and international relations.

This marks a new chapter in Panama's handling of its strategic and humanitarian duties.


The Rio Times

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