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Yesterday, El American published an article that covered the journey through the Darién Gap of many Venezuelan migrants.
If you don’t know what the Darién Gap is, lucky you. It’s one of the densest and most dangerous jungles in the world. Located in the border between Colombia and Panama, it’s so difficult to travel that it is the only place in all of The Americas where the Pan-American Highway breaks. And while its deadliness is not new, the number of Venezuelans trying to cross the jungle made it make the news all over the world. Over 100,000 people tried to cross this year so far, of which 70,000 are Venezuelans.
Why the sudden rise in 2022? It has one person to blame: Joe Biden.
In early 2022, Biden pressured the Mexican and Costa Rican governments to request visas for Venezuelans. They were the only countries aside from Colombia on the way to the U.S. from Venezuela that didn’t ask for a visa to Venezuelans. This meant that Venezuelans despaired enough to leave their country due to the humanitarian crisis now had to do it from Colombia. Biden pressured for this as a deterrent. He thought fewer Venezuelans would be going to the U.S. through the southern border.
To say that he was mistaken is an understatement.
In FY 2021, 48,000 Venezuelans crossed the southern border. In 2022? Only in August, 25,349 Venezuelans crossed the southern border—153,000 crossed the southern border in FY 2022, three times as much as in 2021.
The result of Biden’s ambivalence toward Venezuelans is clear: Many are dying, and some are developing lifelong trauma from what they’ve experienced in the Darién Gap.
I sent the article to a GOP official who is a veteran. Without hesitation, I told him: This rivals whatever you saw in Afghanistan.
Girls raped. Boys murdered in front of their parents. Women abused in front of their husbands. Sons leaving their injured mothers behind to die in the jungle. Parents killing themselves after seeing their child being drowned in a river. A father who strangled his own son. Another parent who killed himself with his two children after seeing his wife die from a heart attack—Every single person we spoke with agreed: The Darién gap is hell on earth.
At least 16 Venezuelans died in 2022 crossing the Gap, while 74 disappeared. Authorities warn the number is way higher: they have many, many unidentified bodies while witnesses claim the indigenous people in the area also bury many of the dead without alerting authorities.
What people endure in the Darién to reach the American Dream is worthy of a John Carpenter horror film.
Why is Biden to blame for this? First, by pressuring Mexico and Costa Rica to ask for visas, he forced thousands of Venezuelans to undergo this perilous journey. But, even worse, he still publicly claims he wants Venezuelans to go to the U.S., and that he won’t deport them. Meanwhile, he also refuses to redesignate the TPS for Venezuelans who have recently arrived in the U.S.
The message is clear: I want you to come. But I want you to suffer to come, and when you arrive, you will remain an illegal immigrant.
Is cruelty the point? Haven’t we Venezuelans suffered enough?
Edgar is political scientist and philosopher. He defends the Catholic intellectual tradition. Edgar writes about religion, ideology, culture, US politics, abortion, and the Supreme Court. Twitter: @edgarjbb_ // Edgar es politólogo y filósofo. Defiende la tradición intelectual católica. Edgar escribe sobre religión, ideología, cultura, política doméstica, aborto y la Corte Suprema. Twitter: @edgarjbb_