QCOSTARICA (EFE) (EFE). – Last Week, representatives from Panama and Costa Rica gathered near their shared border to negotiate practical strategies to manage the influx of migrants traveling through both countries towards North America.
Both countries’ foreign and security ministers, among other officials, met in the city of David, in Panama’s Chiriqui province on the border with Costa Rica.
“The bilateral meeting focused on the current migration situation, which has reached unprecedented levels,” said the Panamanian minister of public security.
Costa Rican Foreign Minister Arnoldo Andre Tinoco said that irregular migration flows “affect democracies today.”
“We are here, as our president (Rodrigo Chaves) says, to be pragmatic. But above all, to be hyperpragmatic in the agreements that we adopt,” Tinoco added.
The Foreign Minister of Panama, Janaina Tewanei, recalled that integration has historically marked relations with Costa Rica, and said that she hoped the meeting would result in an “open dialogue” on irregular migration and other issues of bilateral interest.
During the current migration surge, more than 331,000 people have arrived in Panama on their way to the United States after crossing the Darien Gap, the inhospitable natural border with Colombia, where humanitarian agencies are overwhelmed.
In August alone, 79,455 migrants crossed the Colombian-Panamanian jungle, an unprecedented number for a single month.
Costa Rica is an important destination country for refugees and migrants searching for better economic opportunities or to reunite with family members. Most originate from Nicaragua, but many originate from other Central American countries.
AN “INDELIBLE” ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT
“The flow is too intense, which has negative consequences for the Darien,” such as the contamination of the Panamanian National Park, said Public Security Minister Juan Manuel Pino.
According to the Panamanian Presidency, “the migratory crisis is leaving an indelible environmental mark, with the accumulation of 9,000 tons of garbage on the jungle border,” which “will take 60 years to eliminate”.
Migrants, in many cases entire families with children and even elderly adults, face all kinds of dangers in the jungle, including assault and rape, and many die, according to testimonies from other travelers.