Migrants and the Darién Gap | DW Documentary

Migrants and the Darién Gap | DW Documentary

The jungle between Colombia and Panama, the Darién Gap, is one of the most important migration routes in the world. And one of the most dangerous.

In the hope of a better life in the US, more than half a million people made their way through the rainforest separating Panama and Colombia in 2023 alone. The terrain is muddy and steep, and families with children quickly fall by the wayside. At the same time, drug cartels and armed gangs are also fighting for supremacy in the Darién Gap. Antonia Schaefer and Oliver Schmieg accompanied several migrants.

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Video Transcript

The Daran Gap 100 km of rainforest separating Panama and Colombia it’s one of the key migration routes in the world today people in my country are starving many are dying it’s been a dictatorship for 60 years that’s why I sold my house and left more than half a million people

Made the journey in 2023 alone it may be a tiny step towards the us but it’s by far the hardest I want a better life for my children and my parents they’re all I Have the route begins in Northern Colombia nikle was known as a vacation resort today migrants wait here before entering the rainforest travel to Panama is sold for $2 to $400 for some it’s much more than they have those who can afford it border a boat that will carry them across the Gulf of Uraba after the crossing several routes lead into the Darion but the cheapest and most arduous is via kugan for those who paid a package price to Panama back in nikog Le it’s usually at this point where they discover they’ve been swindled the migrants have to pay again talk with the guys and [Applause]

Negotiate I’ve been here for 4 days we’re negotiating every day there were 14 of us and now there’s only four of us we’ll do our best but we need your support too Darwin Alias maradon is The Smuggler’s boss he calls them guides they’ll take people to the Panama border for around

$150 bringing migrants to Panama counts as smuggling in Colombia and is illegal do you want these guys to die on the Darian route like they used to or would you rather we make them pay for a safe route that’s not taking advantage they have to cross we provide the

Service it’s an Open Secret that it’s Colombia’s most powerful crime syndicate the clan Del go for calling the shots here there’s evidence that Smugglers are forced to make payments to the clan despite proclamations from the governments of Colombia the US and Panama military presence here is minimal

Back in April it was said they would halt migration within 2 months this is where the route through the jungle Begins the first first group of the day sets off around midday Joseline baros a single mother from Venezuela is traveling with her three children in Colombia I wound up earning too little

Money what did you work as in customer service in a cafe as a street vendor anything I could find as long as it was a decent job why couldn’t you just take a flight to Panama it’s too expensive passports especially cost a lot of money for Venezuelans earning that much on your

Own it can’t be done Juan Bautista comes from Cuba he is traveling alone the hopes of his family are riding on him if I make it I’ll send money to my family that’s my goal that gives me strength my family doesn’t really want me to take the risk but I have to

The majority of migrants currently taking this route are Venezuelans they’re joined by ecuadorians Cubans even Afghans Chinese and somalis none of them see an alternative to the Daran route but many underestimate the danger it’s not just only the presence of armed groups that can be perilous for

The migrants nature itself can pose a threat Joselina is having difficulty keeping up her fellow Travelers help her with the children the woman’s tired the hike today lasts around 8 hours in the evening around halfast 7 the group arrives at Camp here they’re only 20 minutes away from

Panama joselene and and her children have made it so far we lost all the supplies everything all the food I got upset of course I started crying because I don’t know what to do now with no money and no food for the children I can go on with only water but

It’s about the children children and my parents are all I have I have no one else when I’m over there when with God’s help I’m doing well I’ll bring my parents too but I couldn’t leave the little ones with my parents they’d be too much of a burden you

Know at the camp there’s food and electricity from the generator but everything costs even the next section of the journey the migrants now must pay $60 to get to Panama the group has to hold out at least three more days in Darion three three days of uncertainty

Many are unable to pay the Smugglers not even Juan from Cuba others who have been through here have told me it’s dangerous that are paramilitary units that are drug dealers anything can happen in the jungle and they offer no security I’d like to have the money to pay because it’s only fair

Security is worth a lot I don’t want to die here I want to make the dream come true for my family on the other side of the Darion lies Panama here some 50 km north of the Colombian border is the base for Panama’s Border Police Jerry Rodriguez is an officer with a Border Police Special Operation St Brigade he’s experienced frequent clashes with armed groups and has also encountered the guides but they fled every time for us these guides are coyotes just traffickers if someone runs it’s because they’re not obeying the law I

Think the migrant issue is mainly about money Jerry and his colleagues have often recovered bodies from the forest but so far they haven’t received any additional help though migration through Darion was meant to have been stopped months ago we’ve been told we’ll see improvements soon but we’re still

Waiting Jerry is later called to another body recovery operation in the Darion at least 258 people have lost their lives here since 2018 here in Panama Border Police do not stop the migrants but help them get safely to the Border with Costa Rica the journey up River to K gas takes

Roughly 6 and 1 half hours this is where most of the migrants currently emerge from the Darion the worst section of the route is now behind them osbel Anna hose and their three children have just arrived fallen down often but we have to keep going for a good future for my children

For them to be well for them to not want for anything for them to study we have to pray to God keep on with God’s help from here the route continues by boat and the last of the day are just leaving these migrants have surv survived the Daran Gap but many who

Cannot afford the boat ride will have to wait here in improvised camps until one of the drivers takes pity on them and offers a free ride bahoi Kito is 45 minutes down river the indigenous Village is the first populated area that the migrants see again only a few hundred people live

Here but over a thousand migrants currently arrive each day Ana and osel got lucky and were able to travel in one of the boats for free their money ran out long ago we’re feeling better now because we have arrived in a safer camp at least we got out of the Jungle thank God Anna you take the kid I’ll get the tent there’s a first aid post here and a kind of State registration take your child with you the woman can do the registration later that afternoon joselene suddenly appears in the village with her children they’re wearing shirts and pants that fellow Travelers have

Given them for the first time in days the children are given something to eat see I need something to drink Joseline tells us about how her group was attacked our guide suddenly came to us with several masked people they had guns they told us to stop because if we

Didn’t they’d send us all back thank God they let me through I was alone with the children one of the men with the guns told me to just keep walking I escaped with a scare but there were people they took money from the last stop in Panama for the

Migrants is a reception Camp further Downstream here Border Police put them on buses that take them to the Costa Rican border the trip costs $40 per person no we don’t know anything let’s see what they tell us up there but we’re getting closer and closer now Six National borders still lie between

Anah hose and osel and the United States as a deserting soldier from Venezuela osbel may have a good chance of being granted Asylum but nothing is certain things it’s the most powerful country the country that is most likely to help migrants today it’s our only option if an opportunity arises in another country

If someone grants us a residency permit then we’ll go there this part of the migration to the us alone cost some $500 a flight from Colombia to Mexico is just half of that within a few months osbel anahi and joselene have all arrived in the US whether they’ll be

Allowed to stay is uncertain but at least they have survived the treacherous Journey Through the Daran Gap

Video “Migrants and the Darién Gap | DW Documentary” was uploaded on 01/08/2024 by DW Documentary Youtube channel.