Darien Gap
Darien Gap AFP / Luis ACOSTA

Last week, the governments of Panama and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in which the Biden administration committed to covering the repatriation costs of migrants crossing the Darién Gap, a natural border with Colombia used by hundreds of people daily on their way to North America. In 2023 alone, 2023, more than 520,000 migrants made their way through the are.

However, as DW reports, experts are increasingly doubting the feasibility of the agreement.

One of those interviewed by the German news site, Senior Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington Diego Chaves, praised the bilateral effort put forward by both countries, but was also quick to point out that "logistically, socially and politically, it's a very difficult measure it implement."

Chaves points specifically to three glaring difficulties. On the one hand is Panama's limited airport infrastructure to carry out such an ambitious repatriation plan. On the other hand is that the countries of origin involved must accept the return of migrants and there are no current negotiations with neighboring states such as Venezuela, to facilitate effective repatriation.

The final difficulty for implementing the repatriation plan, according to Chavez, has to do with the impact on the Panamanian society, as the large presence of migrants in Panama City could generate a tension which its citizens have never experienced in the past.

Maureen Meyer, Vice President of Programs at the US-based human rights organization WOLA, is also skeptical of the logistics. On average, for example, around 1,000 people cross the Darien Gap each day. But even a country with an infrastructure like the United States can only return 500 to 600 by air per day, according to Meyer.

Meyer also points to the issue of funding as an additional obstacle:

"Without massive investment of funds and the development of necessary infrastructure, it is difficult to imagine a significant impact from the agreement. Governments hope that the threat of deportation will discourage many migrants."

According to DW, approximately six million US dollars will be allocated for purchasing plane tickets and providing training and technical assistance to the Central American authorities.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.