David (Panama), Sept 1 (EFE). – Top officials from Panama and Costa Rica met on Friday near their common border to agree on “pragmatic” measures to deal with the wave of migrants crossing both countries on their way to North America.
Both countries’ foreign and security ministers, among other officials, met in the city of David, in Panama’s Chiriqui province on the border with Costa Rica,.
“The bilateral meeting focused on the current migration situation, which has reached unprecedented levels,” said the Panamanian minister of public security.
Costa Rican Foreign Minister Arnoldo Andre Tinoco said that irregular migration flows “affect democracies today.”
“We are here, as our president (Rodrigo Chaves) says, to be pragmatic. But above all, to be hyperpragmatic in the agreements that we adopt,” Tinoco added.
The Foreign Minister of Panama Janaina Tewanei recalled that integration has historically marked relations with Costa Rica, and said that she hoped Friday’s meeting would result in an “open dialogue” on irregular migration and other issues of bilateral interest.
The entry registers have exceeded 800,000 people since 2009.
During the current migration surge, more than 331,000 people have arrived in Panama on their way to the United States after crossing the Darien jungle, the inhospitable natural border with Colombia, where humanitarian agencies are overwhelmed.
In August alone, 79,455 migrants crossed the jungle, an unprecedented number for a single month.
AN “INDELIBLE” ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT
“The flow is too intense, which has negative consequences for the Darien,” such as the contamination of the Panamanian National Park, said Public Security Minister Juan Manuel Pino on Thursday.
According to the Panamanian Presidency, “the migratory crisis is leaving an indelible environmental mark, with the accumulation of 9,000 tons of garbage on the jungle border,” which “will take 60 years to eliminate”.
Migrants, in many cases entire families with children and even elderly adults, face all kinds of dangers in the jungle, including assault and rape, and many die, according to testimonies from other travelers.