Today, Panamanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Janaina Tewaney, Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs Álvaro Leyva Durán, and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas led high level delegations and met in Panamá City to discuss joint efforts to address one of the most pressing issues in the region: irregular migration. The U.S. delegation included Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development Samantha Power, Commander of U.S. Southern Command General Laura Richardson, and senior representatives from across the Administration.
The heads of delegation reaffirm and express their commitment to the roadmap established in the joint communiqué of February 14 of this year in Apartadó, Colombia.
Recognizing our shared interest and responsibility to prevent the risk to human life, disrupt transnational criminal organizations, and preserve the vital rainforest, the governments of Panamá, Colombia, and the United States intend to carry out a two-month coordinated campaign to address the serious humanitarian situation in the Darién.
The Darién is one of these regional challenges. Every year, tens of thousands of migrants attempt to cross the border between Panamá and Colombia, putting their lives in the hands of smugglers, with many perishing while attempting to pass through the treacherous terrain.
Through this coordinated sixty-day campaign and sustained cooperation, the three governments will seek to achieve the following ambitious goals:
- End the illicit movement of people and goods through the Darién by both land and maritime corridors, which leads to death and exploitation of vulnerable people for significant profit.
- Open new lawful and flexible pathways for tens of thousands of migrants and refugees as an alternative to irregular migration.
- Launch a plan to reduce poverty, improve public service delivery, create jobs, and promote economic and sustainable opportunities in border communities in northern Colombia and southern Panamá, through international partnerships across financial institutions, civil society, and the private sector.
This trilateral meeting served as a call to action for the entire region to come together to address irregular migration, in the spirit of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection.