A fleet of 200 buses will transport, starting this Monday, October 9, 2023, migrants crossing the Darien jungle from Colombia to Panama to the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, in an attempt to create a more orderly flow.
“Two hundred buses are going to be accredited to go from Panama to the Catem (Temporary Care Centers for Migrants) directly, so that people do not get off at Paso Canoas,” explained the Costa Rican president, Rodrigo Chaves.
He added that Migrants will be attended to there. “Logistical support will be given,” and then the migrants will “get on another bus to the border with Nicaragua.” This measure will prevent migrants from being detained at Paso de Canoas, the border between Panama and Costa Rica.
The decision was announced after a controversial visit by the leaders of these countries to El Darien, which included overflights in communities where migrants enter. Both leaders were criticized on social networks for being on a platform where they observed the migrants who emerged exhausted and wet from the jungle.
The Costa Rican and Panamanian presidents estimate that they could transport about 2,000 or 3,000 people per day. The trip will cost $40 for the transfer from Catem to Peñas Blancas, but the tickets for those who cannot pay will be covered by public funds and collections from the international community, according to the newspaper La Nación of Costa Rica.
The leaders did not mention whether they would have conversations with the Government of Nicaragua about these measures, nor has the Nicaraguan president, Daniel Ortega, commented on the matter.
The Panamanian and Costa Rican authorities have already met on previous occasions to address the migration crisis and seek joint solutions.
“Panama and Costa Rica have a special relationship. Costa Rica is a friendly country, that is why we have agreed to make the migratory flow as orderly as possible,” said Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo.
Migration through the Darien jungle is at its historical peak
So far in 2023, some 415,104 migrants have crossed the Darien jungle, the majority are from Venezuela, Ecuador, Haiti, China and Colombia, according to data shared by the presidency of Panama.
This figure already exceeds the total of 248,050 migrants who crossed the Darien jungle trail between 2009 and 2021. And the historical record of 248,284 from 2022.
Panama predicts that in 2023 this figure could reach half a million, while the humanitarian organizations and Panamanian authorities present in that area are already overwhelmed.
Chaves and Cortizo took advantage of the meeting to call for no country to be excluded, mainly Venezuela, from the meeting called by the Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, scheduled for October 22, which is focused on the migratory crisis.
Mexico agrees to solicit deportations
Mexico has also taken measures to address the migration crisis that has worsened in the last three years. At the end of September, Mexican and United States authorities agreed on a series of 15 actions to stop the migratory flow.
Among these measures, it was established that the United States Customs and Border Protection Office (CBP) will hand over to the National Migration Institute (INM) of Mexico the migrants who have been expelled from United States territory by the International Bridge between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.
The Government of Mexico will also “carry out the arrangements with the Governments of Venezuela, Brazil, Nicaragua, Colombia and Cuba so that they receive their compatriots.”
These agreements led the United States to resume deportation flights for Venezuelan migrants, which until recently, were sent on commercial flights after the breakdown of relations between those countries.
In a statement, published by Mexican Immigration, they also agreed on the installation of shelters for migrants located in Ciudad Juarez. The opening of an immigration station in that same city and the activation of control and verification points along the train route.
Likewise, the northern border that includes Ciudad Juarez, Piedras Negras, Tijuana and Tamaulipas will be relieved through the deportations of migrants.
“From January to September 2023, Mexican Federal Immigration Agents have rescued 1,469,787 migrants; of that total, 788,089 have been returned by land and air,” they explained in the statement.