Darién: the reality of a historic and dangerous passage of migrants

Darién: the reality of a historic and dangerous passage of migrants

Recently, the hitherto unknown name of Darién has filled headlines in the media in Venezuela and has been a trend on social networks due to information that accounts for the death of Venezuelans who try to cross this border forest between Colombia and Panama, a site that has historically been a crossing point for migrants and a refuge for drug traffickers.

Heartbreaking stories of survivors are viralized by social networks and placed as the main news of the Venezuelan media where the prevailing opinion about the event is marked by the voices of politicians identified with the Venezuelan opposition who blame this situation on the government headed by President Nicolás Ripe.

“There was a girl who crashed into her mother and killed herself and both parents hanged themselves,” is the narration of one of the migrants who managed to cross this jungle and who was documented from a migrant camp in Panama.

Who cross?

Despite the fact that in recent weeks only Venezuelan migrants have been singled out, the reality is that this pass has been crossed by hundreds of thousands of people for several decades, with Colombians, a border country that shares this jungle, being the ones with the greatest transit of those who They want to get to the United States.

according to a UNICEF report, In 2021, more than half of those who made this dangerous journey are Haitians, although he notes that the migrants who undertake this adventure come from at least 50 countries, with Africa and Asia, after Haiti, the regions with the highest rate of these walkers who seek the “American Dreams”.

This same report specifies that in the same period, at least 19,000 boys and girls have crossed this jungle, pointing out that 1 in 5 migrants are children, half of whom are under 8 years of age.

“Every boy and girl who crosses the Darien jungle on foot is a survivor,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jean Gough.

This terrible situation so little reviewed in the Latin American media until this 2022 where it takes a boom mainly targeting Venezuelan migrants, only in 2021 it reported at least 5 children found dead and more than 150 infants who arrived without their parents, a situation that presumes his death or assassination.

of old date

Given the thickness of its vegetation, the marshyness of its roads and the mighty rivers, this border region has served as a refuge for guerrillas, but mainly drug traffickers who use this pass to transport drugs to Central America and from there to The United States, the country with the highest level of consumption of narcotic substances on the planet.

The presence of these groups increases the dangers of this region, as reported by UNICEF, denouncing that between January and September 2021, 29 complaints of sexual abuse of adolescent girls were registered during the trip, while many more women have reported sexual abuse.

“Never before have our teams on the ground seen so many young children crossing the Darien jungle, often unaccompanied. Such a growing influx of children heading north from South America should be urgently treated as a serious humanitarian crisis throughout the region, beyond Panama,” said Gough.

By 2021, the agency EFE news published a video that presents testimonies of Colombians who crossed this jungle region where the journalist points out that “more than 18,000 migrants arrived in Panama from Colombia in the month of July, the highest figure so far this year, surpassing the more than June 11 thousand.

Likewise, they point out that the Governments of Panama and Colombia had committed to promoting safe passage without any action in this regard having been initiated to date.

drug dealer haven

“Lieutenant González of the Marine Infantry in Juradó recognizes that the Panamanian side has become an untouchable refuge for criminals and that, ‘unfortunately’, nothing can be done,” highlights a special journalistic work published in the Spanish newspaper El Pais on February 16, 2006.

“Clan del Golfo blocks migrants in Darién”, is the title of one publication of elColombiano of last February 19, 2019 where it tells how this narco-paramilitary organization controls illegal businesses in the region since at least 2007.

“This is not a bad time,” says a “coyote” scratching his incipient mustache, who adds: “although… it can change, because the gentlemen above said that no one can ship these people until further notice”, this in reference to the members of the Clan del Golfo that in that year prohibited transporting migrants to avoid attracting the attention of the authorities. This warning was based on the murder of four “coyotes” who failed to comply with the orders in the hands of these narco-paramilitaries.

cruel politicization

As evidenced in the foregoing, the reality regarding the passage of migrants in the Darién is not a novelty, nor is it a consequence of the Venezuelan economic crisis, as has been promoted by sectors of Venezuelan opposition extremism.

“It is the Maduro dictatorship that has pushed Venezuelans to risk their lives in the Darién jungle,” former deputy and self-proclaimed “president” Juan Guaidó recently wrote on his Twitter account, where he promotes a “documentary ” where the Darién crossing is narrated, focused on pointing out that “now Venezuelans make up the bulk of the migratory flow.”

Another of the voices of opposition extremism that have taken as a discourse “the drama of Venezuelans in the Darién”, is the fugitive from Venezuelan justice Julio Borgeswho, like Guaidó, charges against the Venezuelan government whom he accuses of promoting the ruin of the country.

Darién: the reality of a historic and dangerous passage of migrants

These assertions and accusations of these spokesmen for extremism, who have been the promoters of the barrage of sanctions against Venezuela that reduced 99% of the income to the country and who also maintain a “parallel government” strategy that has meant the blocking of resources Venezuelans abroad, have been questioned by government defenders who denounce a new campaign aimed at promoting the image of a “humanitarian crisis.”

“Venezuelans are a minority (…) What happens is that the Venezuelan must be exploited in communication to harm Venezuela, and they take that to (Luis) Almagro (…), because Venezuela must be attacked,” said the first Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Diosdado Cabello, who also added that from the opposition extremism there is a campaign to encourage the migration of the youngest.

«Commander (Hugo) Chávez visualized it with that of ‘I would go too far’. The commander alerted the young people and told them ‘don’t go, stay in your land, stay in your country’, but the campaign is perverse via social networks, directed at sectors of the youth who believe they are going to find paradise somewhere else,” he recalled.

Another of the accusations that have arisen against the sectors linked to these campaigns to exalt Venezuelan migration is the exacerbation of this phenomenon in order to obtain financing by emulating what happened between 2018 and 2021 where the United States, Europe and various organizations sent resources. for the attention of migrants, money on which there are allegations of embezzlement as reviewed the BBC with information published by the far-right portal PanamPost.

In the midst of this tidal wave of news with heartbreaking headlines and the viralization of testimonies from Venezuelans, the reality is that this route full of natural hazards and criminal gangs will continue to be the graveyard for some and the cruel testimony of others who come from various parts of the world. , year after year and for several decades, they have crossed this jungle under the elusive gaze of politicians and the media who are now interested in Venezuela to speculate and publicize the stories of those who decide to travel the Darién route.

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