Corn Island, the paradisiacal place in Nicaragua that migrants seek to flee the Darién Gap

The last time that the Venezuelan Solange Cedeños spoke with her two children Melody Rosario, 18, and Jariangel Rosario, 27, was the night of October 11 when they were about to set sail from the San Andrés Islands, in Colombia, to Corn Island, in Nicaragua, but since then he has not heard from them.

“It seems that the sea swallowed them,” said the woman to the VOA via telephone.

Cedeños says that her children, on the recommendation of a friend, began a journey from Venezuela to the United States. They decided to do it by sea since they feared transiting the Dariena jungle area located on the border of Central America (Panama) and South America (Colombia).

But the worry was worse than he imagined. Their children they disappeared into the sea along with 11 other people, in a boat that to date has not been found.

The Nicaraguan Army and the Colombian Navy have not reported anything related to this vessel.

Arriving in Nicaragua from Colombia by sea was a new migratory route used by migrants and human traffickers, he warned in a past interview with the VOAthe Chief of the Colombian Navy, Orlando Enrique Grisales, who warned that the boats that have left San Andrés with the migrants do not have the navigation regulations to go out into open water or high-frequency communication equipment (HF, for its acronym in English) to establish contact with land in case of shipwrecks.

The official explained that the migrants are picked up at night from San Andrés, in Colombia, and then they are taken to hotels in the smaller keys waiting for “an illegal boat to arrive to pick them up and transit them.”

From San Andrés to the Maíz Islands in Nicaragua it is 56 nautical miles and the people who generally transfer migrants charge around 5,000 dollars, indicates Grisales, from the Colombian Force.

The route of the migrants who arrive at Corn Island, in Nicaragua.

The route of the migrants who arrive at Corn Island, in Nicaragua.

Solange Cedeños says that each of her children was charged $1,600 and the route was from San Andrés to Corn Island. Although her mother had never heard of the Nicaraguan island, they trusted that it was less risky than the Darién. “I really had not heard of that island at all. Neither has my daughter.”

a tourist site

Corn Island or Islas del Maíz, are an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea of ​​Nicaragua that are dedicated to tourism. The total area is just 12.9 km², of which the big island has 10 km² and the small island 2.9 km².

Both islands have the attraction of their crystalline waters, but they are also dangerous because they are “in the open sea and climate changes hit the area,” according to a man who works as a boatman in the area and asked not to be named for fear of reprisals. .

This worker said by telephone to the VOA that migrants are dropped off in blind spots on Corn Island, to then board ferries that take people to the town of Bluefields. “There is already land and migrants can take any bus to continue their destination,” she explains.

The cost of a ticket to get to Bluefields is 10 dollars, and the journey in a boat lasts between six and seven hours.

Nicaraguan Army in the area

On that trip from San Andrés to Corn Island, many times the Nicaraguan Army intervened in the area. It is unknown how many vessels in total have been intervened between 2021 and 2022.

In a informative note of the institution in June 2022, the arrest of some 29 Venezuelan migrants from Colombia was reported. The migrants were provided with primary medical care and were later turned over to the appropriate authorities.

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