Exploring the Darien Gap: The Deadliest Migration Route in the Americas

2023-05-31 21:28:01

After meeting with Maduro President Lula “insinuated” that democracy is thriving in Venezuela and called the weakening of the country’s democratic institutions a “narrative construction,” according to a statement from HRW. Maduro arrived in Brazil on Sunday night to participate in the summit of South American leaders convened by Lula and that took place on Tuesday in Brasilia.

The Venezuelan president was the first to arrive at the South American giant for the meeting and was received with all honors by the progressive leader. “As someone who faced recent attempts to overthrow democracy in Brazil, it was frustrating to see him fawning over such an authoritarian ruler,” the NGO notes.

In the note, HRW stated that “it is not a secret” that Maduro “He took control of the Legislative Branch in Venezuela” and that he placed the Judiciary under his command, nor that the elections in which he has participated have not been transparent, that malnutrition in the country triggered and that caused the health system to collapse.

“Human Rights Watch and Venezuelan organizations have documented repression against protesters, torture of detainees, and criminal prosecution of civilians in military courts. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court even opened an investigation into these crimes. President Lula is likely aware of all this,” the NGO emphasized.

HRW also recalled that the Maduro government it has unleashed “one of the biggest” migration crises in the world in which more than 7.2 million Venezuelans have fled to other nations, most of them to Latin American countries including Brazil.

“President Lula must seize every opportunity to restore the leadership that his reckless comments have undermined and fulfill his promise to be a leader in the defense and promotion of human rights around the world,” he said.

The strong criticism of the human rights organization joins those made by the leftist Gabriel Boric, president of Chile, and by the rightist Luis Lacalle Pou, president of Uruguay, who publicly refuted that the human rights situation in Venezuela is a “narrative construction”.

“It is not a narrative construction, it is a reality, it is serious and I had the opportunity to see, I saw the horror of the Venezuelans,” Boric told reporters.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

The jungle that neither the Spanish nor the engineers managed to defeat

For centuries, few dared to cross the Darien Gap, the jungle that connects South America with Central and North America. But, since 2004, after the founding of Frontex, the guard that shields the EU, Asian and African migrants discovered the Darién to reach the US. In 2021, 95,000 crossed it, mostly Haitians, Cubans and Venezuelans. Until September 2022, there were already 158,000.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

Better natural parks than the Pan-American highway

The Panamericana runs 25,750 kilometers from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska, but a stretch of 100 kilometers prevents the connection. Neither Panama nor Colombia have given in to building a highway or lane. Today the option is ecological. The region is home to two natural parks: Katíos in Colombia, and Darién, in Panama, with 5,790 km², a World Heritage Site and the largest Biosphere Reserve in Central America.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

The Darién Gap is also indigenous territory

The jungle between Colombia and Panama is no one’s territory. It also belongs to various indigenous ethnic groups, such as the Emberá-Wounaan (in the image) and Guna Yala who live in two dozen communities. To their fight to defend their territory and deforestation for coca cultivation, is added the incursion of thousands of migrants and refugees. And, behind them, the human traffickers.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

The Darien, a jewel of biodiversity in the Americas

The American continent lasted 60 million years apart. The German geophysicist Alfred Wegener based his theory of continental drift on the study of the junction of the Isthmus of Panama that produced the Great American Biotic Interchange. Thanks to it, there are llamas and jaguars in South America, hummingbirds in Central America, and pumas in the US The Darién is home to more than 2,300 species of trees. North America thousand.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

Necoclí: the number of refugees exceeds the number of inhabitants

A Haitian family camps on the terrace of a family home in Necoclí. Refugees flee their countries and come here for many reasons: Islamists in Africa, earthquakes and the assassination of the president in Haiti, dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela, and the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Necoclí has ​​20,000 inhabitants and more than twice as many applicants to survive the passage of the Darién.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

Transit countries, overwhelmed by the crisis and with no solution in sight

Colombia receives refugees from Ecuador and the Caribbean and grants them safe conduct to cross the country towards Panama. On August 6, the Panamanian foreign minister, Erika Mouynes, and her Colombian counterpart and vice president, Marta Lucía Ramírez, agreed that the port of Necoclí could only sell 500 daily tickets to Capurganá, the entrance to the jungle. A restriction that has worsened the traffic jam.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

The option that forces you to flee: “Die in Haiti, or die outside of Haiti”

A mother with her baby in her arms crosses a river, already lagging behind. Haitians are left with only two options: “Die inside or die outside of Haiti,” Colombian-Haitian scientist Wooldy Edson Louidor tells DW. In addition, the pandemic left thousands of the 200,000 Haitian refugees in Chile and 80,000 in Brazil without a livelihood. Louidor puts the crisis in one sentence: “This is a stampede of despair.”

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

To the limit of jumping into the sea in any object that floats

Due to the limit of daily shipments required by Panama to Bogotá, the situation in Necoclí is increasingly precarious. The town is overwhelmed and most have to wait up to a month to get a spot on a boat. But since they have to cover the costs of room and board, many become stranded, or seek to cross the gulf in anything that floats.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

Capurganá, from Caribbean paradise to the gateway to the “green hell”

Capurganá was a hamlet that lived from its beaches and the breeze of the Caribbean Sea that attracted tourists who preferred a hut of the Kuna ethnic group to the resorts of hotel chains. Today, Capurganá and its neighbor Acandí, known for its Hawksbill turtles, receive migrants who cross the Gulf of Urabá by boat, coming from Necoclí, on their way to enter the jungle. With its beauties and threats.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

Dry feet on the first river, but twenty are missing

Migrants pass with dry feet the first river of the journey that began in Acandí. The horse-drawn carts will be returned once they are dropped off on the other shore. The refugees will have to cross twenty more rivers on foot. The journey lasts between 6 to 10 days. Those who go into the jungle pride themselves on having survived the numerous shipwrecks in the Gulf of Urabá.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

The Darien is not a tropical jungle like the Amazon

The Darien is part of the Isthmus of Panama that divides the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. This jungle is not a plain like the Amazon, but a broken mountain range with heights of up to 1,340 meters and dozens of mighty rivers that carry women, children and men. The despair in Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, Palestine, Afghanistan and Somalia is greater than the fear of perishing in the Darien.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

For many, what awaits them on the other side of the Darién is a grave

It does not matter if the fatalities during the passage of the Darien Gap were Muslims, Buddhists or atheists, in any case they receive a Catholic burial. An act of mercy from the priest of Agua Fria, in Panama, here in the cemetery. The IOM has reported 50 deaths this 2021, lifeguards start from 200 victims due to exhaustion, rivers, falls, snakes and human predators.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

Migrants are also persecuted by the coronavirus, malaria, dengue and Zika

The pandemic continues to expel many migrants from countries that welcomed them, but the coronavirus pursues them on their route. After several cases of COVID-19 in Necoclí, Colombia launched a campaign to vaccinate migrants against the coronavirus. But in the Darien Gap, the mosquitoes that transmit malaria, dengue, chikungunya and Zika await them. The emergency is also health.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

“Humanitarian route” across the continent

A Cuban arrives wounded in Panama. On October 12, 2021, another shipwreck in the Gulf of Urabá left 8 dead and many others missing. Humanitarian NGOs call for the urgent creation of a “humanitarian route”, because the crisis is “a time bomb”. Since the news reached Necoclí that Biden is deporting Haitians, many want to return, but the flow of those who arrive does not stop.

The Darien Gap: the deadliest migration route in the Americas

Summit of the Americas to address the migration crisis?

A young man recovers his strength in Meteti, Panama. Pressure in the Darien Gap is rising and threatening to take many more lives. For this reason, various NGOs propose a “Summit of the Americas for migration” with all the countries of transit and destination, and also with the governments that cause the exodus. Author: José Ospina-Valencia

#Maduros #autocracy #narrative

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.