Migration Via The Darien Gap Is Cut Off Following The Capture Of Boat Captains In Colombia

Mocobizscene – The capture of several boat captains has disrupted the flow of thousands of migrants who were making their way through the dangerous Darien Gap, a migratory highway. These captains had been transporting the migrants to the starting point of their jungle trek.

The stoppage started on Monday when Colombian law enforcement apprehended two boat captains in the northern city of Necoclí. As a result, the companies that employed them decided to halt all transport services in protest. This action has effectively cut off the estimated 2,000 individuals who enter the jungled passage every day with the hope of reaching the United States.

According to the Colombia’s Ombudsman’s Office, there is a concerning build-up of around 8,000 people awaiting to cross the border between Colombia and Panama. This situation has raised alarm as it has the potential to overwhelm the health system and food supply, among other critical aspects.

Carlos Camargo Assis, the head of the office, expressed concern about the vulnerable migrant populations and emphasized the urgency in addressing their situation before it deteriorates further and results in human rights violations.

The recent chaos serves as a stark reminder of the arduous journey that lies ahead for authorities in Latin America and the United States as they grapple with the daunting task of addressing unprecedented levels of migration and dismantling the ever-growing and profitable migrant trafficking industry.

President Joe Biden has been exerting pressure on Colombia and other Latin American nations to take stronger measures against regional migration towards the U.S. southern border. Despite the increased enforcement efforts in many Latin American countries, the Darien Gap continues to be a lawless area along the migratory route north. Currently, the Gulf Clan, Colombia’s most powerful drug gang, largely controls the jungles of the Darien Gap.

In the previous year, over 500,000 individuals made the treacherous journey across the notorious Darien Gap. Among them were migrants hailing from Venezuela, as well as various Latin American, African, and Asian nations. These migrants would then navigate through Central America and Mexico, ultimately reaching the U.S.-Mexico border. Astonishingly, authorities encountered migrants a staggering 2.5 million times throughout the year 2023.

In preparation for the November 2024 elections, the spotlight has once again turned to the unprecedented influx of people at the border. Both President Biden and former President Donald Trump have scheduled visits to the border on Friday.

According to Colombia’s Prosecutor’s Office, the boat captains who were captured had been transporting over 150 migrants from Necoclí to another Colombian city across the Caribbean. From there, the migrants would start their journey northward.

Two tourist transport companies employed the captains, who prosecutors claim were actually using the companies as a cover to transport migrants. These migrants were charged exorbitant fees ranging from $140 to $300 per person for a journey of only a few miles by sea.

According to an official from the Prosecutor’s Office, who preferred to remain anonymous due to lack of authorization, these companies exploit the vulnerability of migrants for their own financial gain.

In an interview with The Associated Press, an official expressed concern over the exorbitant fees charged for travel, despite the lack of basic security conditions. The official likened the situation to sardines packed tightly in a can and accused those responsible of deceiving and lying to travelers.

According to him, the purpose of these captures is to serve as a warning to individuals engaged in trafficking and to disrupt the illegal industry of transporting migrants. He emphasized that the profitability of this industry has increased due to the surge in migration in the Americas. However, he expressed concerns about the prevalence of the trafficking system in the Darien Gap, stating that for every trafficker they apprehend, two more emerge.

The Ombudsman’s Office has expressed concern about the ongoing stoppage, as there seems to be no clear end in sight. The town of Necoclí, with a population of 20,000, experienced a similar situation three years ago, when over 10,000 migrants accumulated, leading to the city’s collapse.

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MBS Staff
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