Panama’s Newly Elected President Promises To Halt Dangerous Migration Path

( – Panama’s President-Elect José Raúl Mulino vowed to end migration through the Panama jungle bordering Columbia that was used by over half a million people in 2023 when he takes office in July.

After his May 5 election victory was formalized last Thursday, Mulino said the Darien jungle route in Panama was “not a transit route” but the country’s border.

Currently, Panama has assisted migrants by busing them across its territory so they can continue making the journey to the US border. However, during the presidential campaign, Mulino, the country’s former security minister, said he would end the travel through Panama’s dense Darien jungle.

Mulino argued that “the Darien odyssey” did “not have a reason to exist.”

The dangerous route through the Darien jungle grew in popularity in recent years thanks to criminal cartels in Columbia who made the route affordable for Central and South American migrants.

Meanwhile, under pressure from the United States, Mexico imposed visa restrictions on foreign nationals, including Venezuelans and more recently Peruvians to try and curb the number of migrants flying into the country to make their way to the US southern border.

With air travel to Mexico choked off, thousands of migrants made their way north through the jungle at the Colombia-Panama border. However, the route is a risky one, with increasing reports of rape and robberies by bandits. Some migrants have been killed in robberies while others have drowned trying to cross the rivers.

So far this year, roughly 147,000 migrants have made their way into Panama through the Darien border route.

In a radio interview last Thursday, Mulino said shutting down the flow of migrants was more of a philosophical idea rather than a physical obstacle. He said if Panama started to deport the migrants, fewer migrants would attempt to make the land crossing through the country.

He said by the time Panama flew the fourth planeload of migrants out of the country, those considering the route would decide that traveling through Panama was “not attractive because they are deporting you.”

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