Panama fills more migrant victims in the brutal Darien Gap

Aguafuria, Panama (AP) — Immigrants who died beyond the most dangerous part of their trip to the United States in an isolated cemetery in Darien Province, Panama, were plasticized with little information available for one day. Someone will come to see you will be buried with a card.

Last afternoon, a worker in a white suit placed 15 sets of remains in a long trench behind the graveyard. A local monk standing on the head of the trench with candles, crosses and flowers performed a simple ritual. The white body bag had handwritten clues “Unknown in Baho Grande”, “Unknown in Turquesa River”, “Unknown # 3, Minor”.

So far this year, Panama has recovered at least 50 sets of bodies from migrants crossing the Darien Gap. Many officials believe that they are just a few of the people who died in the dense, lawless jungle. An average of 20 to 30 bodies have been recovered annually in recent years, but this year Panama officials say more than 90,000 migrants (mainly Haitians) have crossed the Darien Gap from Colombia.

Jose Vicente Patcher, director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Panama, said: “Many of them die from natural causes such as heart attacks. They fall and no one accompanies them. They either stay there, are beaten, or a stream of water comes in, the river. Take the corpse that floats along the edge of the snakebite. ”Snakebites are also common.

“Currently, there is no way to investigate for us to seek international support. All explanations and statements (for example) have human bodies, so we can’t follow the trails or trails,” Pachar said. Mr. says.

Agents at the Border Guard in Panama, along with investigators from the Darien Prosecutor’s Office, will assist in the recovery of the bodies, sometimes by helicopter pulling them out.

But recovery is only the first challenge researchers face.

The body is often severely degraded in high humidity environments and partially eaten by animals. Those who may have witnessed the death of themselves immigrants are not around to continue and help identify themselves. And most of the bodies have no ID and have been stolen or lost.

Julio Vergara, the Supreme Prosecutor of the State of Darien, said that even if migrants reported death, “when we intend to recover and support the facts, the migrants who reported it unfortunately follow their route. I’m continuing. ” He said five Haitians, two Cubans, and Brazilians were identified in the incident he opened this year. Four of the victims were children.

Haitians accounted for the majority of the 15,000 immigrants who camped in Del Rio, Texas for several days near the border bridge last month. The United States has deported thousands of them to Haiti.

In Panama, much of the identification work is left to the staff of Pacha in the Panama City Morgue.

If possible, they will fingerprint the victim, make a dental record, and try to identify the cause of death. All that information is entered into the database.

“This is a painstaking process because the body is generally in the process of cell degradation and many individual features are lost,” Pachar said.

The burial of 15 victims in Aguafuria followed a similar ritual in the same cemetery a few weeks ago. In that case, six sets of bodies were buried.

Mr. Patcher said burial was needed, not only because of respect for the victims, but also because the morgues in Darien needed to open up space for new victims.

“If someone who wants to get the remains of a loved one comes later, we have a way to tell them that we’re here,” said Patcher.

So far, the family has claimed the bodies of Cuban immigrants, and relatives of other immigrants outside Latin America have confirmed their identities and are buried in Panama according to family customs and religious beliefs, according to Vergara. There is a possibility.

Recent burials included a foetation that Vergara said a Haitian woman had delivered to the authorities in a bag. The prosecution said it had a miscarriage when it fell while crossing.

Immigrants are buried in at least half a dozen other communities in Darien. Burials have caused resentment to some indigenous communities who do not want locals to bury migrants in their graveyards. There was also a turmoil in Aguafuria, so local leaders asked Rev. Delgado Diamante, who held the exsequiae, to work on this issue in honor of him during a mass at a local church.

The day after the burial, further down the perforated highway leading deep into Darien, more than 800 migrants (mainly Haitians) got off the boat on the Chucunaque River, which was taken out of the jungle, and nearly 300 have already arrived. I was waiting. Immigration camp. Many boarded government buses and crossed Panama to camps near the Costa Rica border.

From Haiti, 34-year-old Iseris Shily continued to tremble with the challenges of the Darien Gap. He and his wife, Siberia Evanet, traveled to Chile in 2017 and left Chile hoping to go to the United States this year.

According to Silly, her wife had a miscarriage during the crossing and was hospitalized with bleeding on Friday.

“She almost died,” he said. “We were like six days in a jungle with no water or food, as everything we brought was gone.”

He said they were robbed as they approached the first town, and threatened death because they said he couldn’t pass by without paying. “Now I don’t have the money to keep going my way.”

Shiry was calling an American relative before entering the jungle. On Friday, he wanted to let them know that they had done it, but his cell phone was dead.

“I remember a lot. I didn’t want to talk about it,” Shirley said. “I saw six people die in front of me in the river. This tragedy is very difficult. It’s not an adventure I want to relive.”

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