Panama’s New Leader Shuts Down Migration Routes

Photo by Jannik on Unsplash

( – Incoming Panama President Jose Raul Mulino has promised to make significant changes to the country’s policy to alleviate the United States border crisis.

Mulino, the President-elect of the Central American nation, vowed he would be shutting down a critical migration gap in the country, which has been used by over 500,000 migrants in the last year to access the United States.

According to a report, Mulino noted the Darien, where the gap exists, is “not a transit route,” but that it was the country’s “border.”

Previously, Panama had assisted migrants with transportation through the vital gap, allowing them to continue their journey north, becoming a pivotal point in the journey migrants make to reach the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mulino’s comments come as the U.S. has continued to pressure Mexico to assist in alleviating the migrant crisis, requesting that the neighboring country enforce movement restrictions that would prevent migrants from ever reaching the U.S. southern border.

Despite the Darien Gap being on a treacherous route toward the U.S., it has become popular with cartels and other organized crime networks that have helped migrants make the perilous crossing for cheaper in their effort to reach the United States.

Panama’s President-elect suggested that the new policy would make Panama a less attractive choice for migrants on their journey further north.

Mulino explained that when the nation starts “deport[ing] people… interest for sneaking through Panama will decrease.”

He suggested migrants would be discouraged from attempting the dangerous route out of fear of being deported by Panama.

However, experts are skeptical that Mulino’s promises would result in any meaningful reduction in migration. 

Adam Isacson, an analyst for the Washington Office on Latin America, a nongovernmental organization, said Panama didn’t have the capacity to “massively deport” the hundreds of thousands of migrants that use the Darien Gap.

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