War Correspondent Michael Yon is traveling the journey of the migrants from South America to the United States, detailing their travails and travels, as well as remarkable encounters he has along the way. The Epoch Times presents excerpts from his ongoing account.
Darien Gap, Panama
April 21, 2021
Here in Darien Gap, Panama, I have heard so many stories about dying children, rape, murder, and death.
Three Venezuelans journeyed north through Colombia to Panama. One of the three says their families are starving in Venezuela, and they want to make it to the United States. On video they tell of having seen 5 adults and two children dead on their journey to Panama. They say three young girls were raped. The three men in the video were robbed. They emphatically warn others not to make the trip through the jungle to Panama.
On a trip to a remote village today I came across what appeared to be a dying pregnant lady. She seemed African. I tried to wake her up. The Panama border police saw her. There was nothing I could do. What a sickening feeling.
There are many river and stream crossings and water claims it’s share through drowning and waterborne illness. I asked some people today how their babies are. Some have diarrhea. This is all sickening. Infants. Babies will die in one day from this, and many are doing so.
Some people just can’t swim and they must cross those streams. I’ve been out there bathing in the streams and can confirm you can get swept down. Especially a lot of migrants are from African cities, or places with crocodiles in the rivers. And so they usually don’t go in the water. No crocodiles in these rivers, but many migrants just cannot swim.
Migrants leave Darien Gap at a village called Bajo Chaqita. When they arrive at the village, the first little store they come to has Money Gram and Western Union at 20 percent commission.
Francisco the mayor, an Embera Indian, told me the village makes more than a million dollars per year on the migrants, and the village only has less than 300 Embera inhabitants.
Today at Bajo Chiquita, I met the most interesting “migrant” ever. Roddy Sanchez is from Ecuador and is in Panama only for adventure. We got along instantly. Francisco said he had never met someone like this. I had picked him out to talk with because he did not seem like the others. Something different—such as his electric hair.
He said he is 28, and has a YouTube channel.
He wants to walk to a hundred countries—he said his dad did 35 countries. When he gets to America, he wants to walk around and then walk somewhere else.
Panama was only his 10th but he highly recommends not doing Darien Gap. He saw two dead bodies in Darien. Many migrants tell those stories. It’s like a war here.
Roddy said that migrants left a trail of food and supplies in Colombia. When they got tired they just abandoned food and tons of gear.
He said robbers with rifles took all his gear including his passport. He had a backpack that he said he found later, and found other abandoned gear.
Often robbers just take everything including passports. Others, who pay coyotes enough to begin with, often can keep their phones and other gear. I have yet to work out the details on this. I know some make it through with phones and passports and some do not, and they are on the same route.
My Embera translator said Roddy the adventurer’s eyes showed he was very excited to talk with me because most people would think he was crazy to do this, but I (Michael Yon), thought it was fantastic.
Adopted from Michael Yon’s blog.