In light of the surge in migration, Panama is initiating several key changes aimed at stemming the influx of migrants crossing through the perilous Darién jungle and into the country. Panama reduces the tourist stay period and with those new rules impacting both tourists and migrants, imposing more stringent requirements and enhancing border controls. These sweeping reforms come as the Central American nation grapples with an unparalleled increase in migrant arrivals, stretching its resources to the limit. The following article delves into the specifics of the new policies and their implications for Panama’s ongoing migration crisis.
A Troubling Trend
Panama is experiencing an unprecedented flow of migrants, primarily from Venezuela, but also from countries such as Colombia, Haiti, and even China. Faced with an increasingly untenable situation, the government has been spurred into action, announcing new measures to curb this migratory deluge. These range from stricter visa rules for tourists to enhanced surveillance, which collectively signify a more hard-line stance on migration.
New Government Measures
In a move that signals the government’s increasing concern about the situation, Panama is ramping up deportations and investing in new infrastructure in the remote Darién province. This is a comprehensive approach, targeting various entry points and methods used by migrants to enter the country.
Changes in Tourist Visa Rules – Panama reduces the tourist stay period
One of the most eye-catching changes is the reduction of the tourist stay period from 90 days to a mere 15 days. This aims to limit the number of people who enter Panama as tourists but stay as illegal migrants. Additionally, the required proof of economic solvency for entering Panama will be increased from $500 to $1,000 per person. These changes are significant, aimed squarely at making it more difficult for potential migrants to game the system.
Official Statements and Justifications
In a press conference, Samira Gozaine, the Director of the National Migration Authority, highlighted the need for these new measures. She said that the enhanced deportations would be facilitated by presidential authorization to charter flights specifically for this purpose. Regarding the topic of “Panama reduces the tourist stay period and the proof of solvency”: Gozaine made it clear that these measures are not aimed at specific nationalities but would be applied based on the discretion of security personnel following interviews at entry points. Click here for the official announcement in Spanish.
Addressing Overflow of Migrants and Security Concerns
The sheer volume of migrants has overwhelmed Panama’s capacity to handle them adequately. In response, Juan Pino, the Minister of Security, pointed out that the country is doing its best under extremely challenging circumstances. “We are at a limit of capacity,” he stated, defending the nation’s management of the situation.
This comes amidst ongoing efforts to combat organized crime groups that are exploiting the crisis, trafficking migrants through the treacherous Darién jungle, a region bordering Colombia. Panama’s security agencies have been battling human, weapon, and drug trafficking operations that have found fertile ground amidst the chaos.
Enhanced Surveillance and Security Measures
To deal with the myriad challenges, Panamanian authorities are intensifying surveillance. Biometric data is collected from migrants as they arrive in Darién, and security agencies are closely monitoring the land routes that migrants use to move towards the Costa Rican border.
The recently announced ‘Shield’ operation has seen the deportation or expulsion of 452 foreigners, including 157 Colombians, between June and the present. This operation aims to thwart human traffickers and other illicit activities in the Darién region.
Intensified Aerial Surveillance
The government is also focusing on air routes, doubling or tripling the number of flights in the Darién province for surveillance purposes. This is an integral part of the strategy to control borders and gain an upper hand in managing the routes that migrants take to enter the country.
Migrant Demographics and Overwhelming Numbers
To put things in perspective, over 350,000 migrants have crossed into Panama via the Darién jungle just this year 2023, shattering the previous year’s record by over 100,000. While Venezuelans form the majority, migrants from Ecuador, Haiti, Colombia, and China are also part of this massive human wave.
Conclusion: An Urgent Response to an Unprecedented Challenge
As Panama reaches the limits of its capacity to handle the migrant crisis, the newly announced measures signify a crucial step in mitigating the issue. However, as the country navigates this complex and evolving situation, these policies are just the first in what may be a series of actions designed to bring the migration rates back to manageable levels. Only time will tell how effective these measures will be in curbing the ongoing crisis. Panama reduces the tourist stay period and the other measures are just a start. As with any country one should obtain legal residency if living there for many reasons. Should you face problems, have worries or simply questions in regards to obtaining legal residency, our experienced team is available for you.