Darien Gap Seeing Increased Use for Illegal Migration, Some

Panamanian immigration officials say the number of people crossing the Darien Gap, a region between the North and South American continents within Central America, consisting of a large watershed, forest and mountains in the northern portion of Colombia’s Chocó Department and Panama’s Darién Province, has reached record levels. Estimates say 70,000 migrants made this dangerous trip so far this year, subsequently registering at shelters in Panama. The route is said to have been used by smugglers for years to take migrants from South America to Central America and then on to the U.S. Most of the migrants are Haitians that had been living in Brazil or Chile. The pandemic left them without work, Visa requirements make it nearly impossible for them to take flights to Panama, Mexico or the United States. Many attempt to cross the jungle in the hopes of starting a new life in the U.S. The migrants are using a variety of methods of crossing, including by boat.