The number of undocumented migrants arriving in Panama on their way to the United States almost doubled in 2022, reaching a record 248,000 and more than half of them were Venezuelans, the migration authority reported on Sunday.
The National Migration Service said in a report that 247,810 irregular migrants passed through the country, of which 150,289 are Venezuelans.
The document indicates that after Venezuelans who passed through Panama are followed by Ecuadorians with 29,226, Haitians (22,212), Cubans (5,961) and Colombians (5,060), among other nationalities.
The number of undocumented migrants who crossed Panama is a historic figure by almost doubling the 133,726 who did so in 2021 and the 8,594 in 2020.
Last Thursday, the Nicaraguan Naval force reported that it found documents and belongings of two of the 20 Venezuelan migrants who disappeared in mid-December in the Caribbean Sea, as part of the search operations they are carrying out with Costa Rican coastguards.
According to information received by the Nicaraguan army, the migrants had allegedly set sail from the island of San Andres, Colombia, on December 16, with 12 adults and 8 children, all Venezuelans, on board.
The migrants were bound for the Nicaraguan island of Corn Island and then continued by land on their way to the United States. The search for the people continues.
The NGO Organización Nacional de Salvamento y Seguridad Marítima de los Espacios Acuáticos de Venezuela (Onsa) said on December 19 that “the people who were to receive the boat on Corn Island confirmed that it never arrived at its destination”.
Venezuelans migrating illegally to the United States have lately opted to use the San Andres-Corn Island route to avoid passing through Panama’s dangerous Darien jungle, the association said.
Last October, the United States closed the door to migrants from Venezuela who have illegally crossed through Panama and Mexico, and announced that it will only accept 24,000 with prior permission who arrive by air and have a sponsor on U.S. soil.