• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
rotating globe
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG


Feb 29, 2024, 7:37am EST
South America
icon

Semafor Signals

Supported by

Microsoft logo

Colombia cracks down on Darién Gap crossings

Insights from The New York Times, The Guardian, and El País

Arrow Down
A group of migrants walk towards the Rio Grande River with intentions to cross into Eagle Pass, Texas, U.S., in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, February 24, 2024. REUTERS/Cheney Orr
REUTERS/Cheney Orr
PostEmailWhatsapp
Title icon

The News

Colombian authorities arrested two boat captains who played a key role in ferrying migrants to the dangerous Darién Gap, a stretch of jungle that thousands have crossed in hopes of traveling onwards to the U.S.

Boat companies suspended migrant crossings to the entrance of the forest following the arrests, The New York Times reported, noting that the law enforcement moves were “sure to be watched closely by U.S. officials” after months of Washington pressuring Bogota to block the route.

icon

SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Companies charge huge sums to migrants hoping to cross Darién jungle

Source icon
Source:  
The New York Times

A thriving “migration industry” has cropped up in towns near the Darién jungle, The New York Times reported in September, with boat operators charging $40 per head to transport people to the start of the crossing. It found that some of these businesses were being run by local politicians. “Colombian leaders say they can prevent their impoverished towns from being overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of needy people, help the migrants traverse the treacherous jungle more safely — and feed their own economies in the process,” the Times noted.

Migrants boost local economies in Latin America

Source icon
Source:  
The Guardian

Most of the migrants who traverse the Darién Gap come from Venezuela, and while the majority are headed for the U.S., those that settle in other Latin American countries have brought considerable economic benefits. Two recent studies found that immigrants boosted the economies of their host nations by as much as 0.25% annually — a number that could rise if migrants were given job opportunities. Migration “is good business,” a Colombian researcher studying Venezuelan migration told The Guardian. “Receiving migrants makes us a better country and allows us to continue growing. It’s as simple as that.”

Migrants pushed to cross jungle as alternatives prohibitively expensive

Source icon
Source:  
El País

The number of migrants using the risky Darién Gap to travel towards the U.S.-Mexico border has increased in recent years, following a move from Mexico to limit the number of tourist visas it issues new arrivals. Crossing the Darién isn’t the only path to North America — but it is often the most affordable, El País reported. Ecuadoreans, for example, have paid smugglers as much as $20,000 per person to travel from the nation to Nicaragua’s capital Managua in order to bypass the jungle.

Semafor Logo
AD