Migrants risk lives in Darien Gap on journey north

By Irene Escudero

Necoclí, Colombia, Sep 27 (EFE).- A group of Haitians and Venezuelans play dominoes to kill time as they anxiously wait to embark on the dangerous journey across the Darien jungle that will bring them one step closer to the “American dream”.

Many have been waiting in Necoclí, the last stop in Colombia before crossing the jungle into Panama, since leaving their homes in Brazil and Chile weeks ago.

Despite having a stable job in Chile, Waldi Joseph decided to leave after he was not able to get legal documentation for his family to join him.

Jean Robert, originally from Haiti, also had a job in Brazil, but his salary was not enough to support his wife and four children.

“Do you know what it feels like when your son asks you for money and you don’t have any? My children have no respect for me because when they ask me, I never have enough to give to them,” he tells Efe.

A record number of people are waiting to cross the border into Panama, official data shows.

In June this year, the figure increased tenfold compared to January and in August, some 25,000 people made the crossing.

But with some 17,000 migrants waiting and only 500 allowed through per day, Waldi Joseph and Jean Robert still have a long way to go before they make it to their final destination.

To reach Mexico alone, the migrants have to pass through five countries and tough terrain, including the Darien rainforest, where the migrants are threatened by bandits and lethal snakes.

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