Panama just posted data about migration through the treacherous, ungoverned Darién Gap jungles that straddle eastern Panama and northwestern Colombia. Once regarded as an impenetrable barrier, this region of old-growth jungle is becoming a superhighway.
The data are mind-boggling. 1,606 migrants per day walked through the Darién in September. 1,280 were citizens of Venezuela, who have begun migrating in large numbers to the United States.
The chart below shows migration through the Darién Gap over the past 13 years. 2021’s record number of Haitian migrants, which seemed unthinkable at the time, has been surpassed by the exodus of 107,692 Venezuelans in 9 months. (Only 219 Venezuelans walked the Darién in all 11 years from 2010 to 2020.)
6.8 million Venezuelans (out of about 30 million) have left their country since the mid-2010s. Many of those coming through the Darién have already lived for years elsewhere in South America, and they’re giving up on trying to survive there.
There is potential for this exodus of Venezuelan migrants to multiply still further in the Darién. This has quickly become the number-one displacement and migration challenge in the hemisphere.