Q24N – Venezuelan migrants gathered on Saturday at the main airport in Panama in search of a ticket to return to Venezuela after the US closed the land border, through which they intended to enter that country after a trip that includes crossing the dangerous jungle of Darien.
“The Tocumen International Airport and security forces carry out coordination tasks to serve with dignity and preserve order in the face of the massive arrival of Venezuelan migrant citizens, who seek to return to their country by air,” said the administration of the terminal.
Tocumen operations at terminals 1 and 2 were not affected and were carried out “on a regular basis, while the competent entities” carried out “transport procedures for this group of people,” the airport statement added.
The irregular travelers were removed from the site in buses and taken to a temporary shelter set up by the Venezuelan Embassy, which will be in charge of granting them safe conduct and the necessary support so that they can leave Panama by air, according to the information available.
“We left (Venezuela) for the American dream and unfortunately it was not fulfilled (…) we want to leave (Panama) as soon as possible,” one of the Venezuelan migrants who arrived at the Tocumen International Airport, which serves the Panamanian capital and it is a regional hub of connections, told EFE.
Panama’s Foreign Minister, Janaina Tewaney, said on Friday that “migrants who intend to return to Venezuela have been welcomed by the Venezuelan Mission in Panama and they are in charge of carrying out the return to Venezuela.”
“In fact, approximately 435 who have already been returned by charter flights to date, and we also have between today and tomorrow a return of 200” more, said the Panamanian Foreign Minister according to data received from the Venezuelan embassy in Panama.
The voluntary return of migrants is an issue that “is being coordinated through the Foreign Ministry, Migration and the Venezuelan Mission in Panama, which has taken responsibility and is carrying out the specific movements of those irregulars who have a voluntary interest. to return,” she added.
Panama is the gateway to Central America from the south. This year around 190,000 irregular travelers have arrived in the country after crossing the Darién jungle, the natural border with Colombia, an unparalleled figure, and more than 70% of them are Venezuelans. They all have the goal of reaching the United States.
Since last week, the United States has applied a new policy for Venezuelans: anyone who enters irregularly through the land border with Mexico or who has arrived in Panama in the same circumstance will be immediately expelled to Mexico.
The United States also announced a program that gives legal status for 2 years to 24,000 Venezuelans who arrive by plane and have a sponsor in the U.S.
On Friday, Venezuelan families left Mexico, voluntarily and through the border with Guatemala, heading to Panama and Costa Rica, due to the new measures of the United States that contemplate their immediate deportation if they cross that country by land.
With notes from EFE and Revista Summa