Venezuelans top Haitians as main crossers in Darien, Panama

PANAMA CITY — Venezuelan migrants replaced Haitians in January as the main group using the notoriously dangerous Darien Gap to cross from South America into Panama, officials reported Tuesday.

In 2021, Haitians represented almost 80% of the approximately 130,000 migrants who used the jungle crossing. This inhospitable area of land between Colombia and Panama is populated with wild animals, and boasts a lot of criminals.

But in January, more than half of the 4,702 migrants who crossed into Darien were Venezuelan, security and foreign relations officials said.

The monthly figure represents a decline from flows in January 2021. Oriel Ortega is the director of Panama’s border service. He said that once bustling Lajas Blancas camp for migrants near Darien has now become empty.

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