Marcelino Rosario and Raquel Sánchez
The governments of Panama and Costa Rica reaffirmed on Wednesday their commitment to address the growing flow of irregular immigrants who make their way to the United States, a task that they plan to carry out with the maximum order to guarantee its transit.
In recent weeks the drama of immigration was portrayed by the evident number of people trying to enter Panama through the Darién jungle, bordering Colombia, mostly of Cuban and Haitian nationalities, a situation that provoked a warning between the authorities.
Given this, the leaders of both nations agreed to reinforce the bilateral Controlled Flow program, in order to guarantee humanitarian attention to the migrant without neglecting the issues inherent in the fight against the trafficking of human beings.
After the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, and the Costa Rican, Carlos Alvarado, signed a joint statement of the Second Binational Meeting on security, migration, trade, tourism and cooperation, they referred to the action they take on the social issue.
"The citizens -of the region and extraterritorial- have to comply with the laws and do the transit in an orderly, controlled and established manner", declared Varela regarding the migration cooperation program.
He said that before these mixed flows and movements of people of various nationalities, both States apply sanitary and security controls, in addition to indicating the responsibility they must have when being directed by a Government, and that they are not part of a net of human trafficking.
In recent days Panama has had to manage the passage of more than 700 irregular migrants, 57% Cubans and the rest of countries such as Haiti, Cameroon, Ghana, Eritrea and Ethiopia, who arrived on foot in the Central American country and seek to pass through the border of Costa Rica to continue heading north of the American continent.
Varela said that the migrants they receive are taken to a small shelter in the coastal town of Puerto Obaldía or Yaviza in the province of Darién, on the border with Colombia; then they are taken to Costa Rica in an orderly manner previously registered with their identification and fingerprints.
The head of state added that both nations maintain controls so as not to expose migrant people to traffickers and the local population in situations that damage the image of the country and the economy.
Meanwhile, Alvarado stressed that the implemented model of flow allows a standard of safe, orderly and registered migration, which has eliminated the phenomenon of "coyotaje" or illegal trafficking of people.
"We believe in the approach of orderly migrations with a focus on human rights, given that in the population that transits there are minors and pregnant women", he exclaimed.
The massive arrival of Cubans in 2015 and the closure of borders that Nicaragua ordered led to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Panama and Costa Rica.
In the working session held in the town of Boquete, in the western province of Chiriquí, the presidents talked about the democratic exit and the dialogue that is needed in the crisis that Venezuela is going through.
These nations make up the so-called Lima Group, which does not recognize Maduro's second term and calls for democratic and credible elections in Venezuela.
Another issue addressed by both leaders was the fight against drug trafficking due to the increase in drug production in neighboring countries, and the training of security forces to intensify their presence in the Pacific sector, route used by criminal networks in the transfer of drugs.
In addition, the political dialogue was conducive to deepen the joint tourism promotion as a multi-destination, to attract more visitors from the United States, Europe and Asia, and thus promote connectivity.
The leaders also discussed the modernization of customs posts, commercial relations, initiatives for the La Amistad National Park, the advance of the binational bridge over the Sixaola River and the Joint Cooperation Commission.