Raul Mulino announced a repatriation plan to stop migration through Darien

Raul Mulino announced a repatriation plan to stop migration through Darien

(CNN) — Panama's President-elect Jose Raul Mulino announced this Thursday during a proclamation by the National Inspection Board that he would initiate a repatriation process to prevent irregular immigration entering through the Darien Forest en route to the United States.

“Panama and our Darien is not a transit route. No, sir, it is our border,” Mulino said in his declaration speech after being elected as the new president for the next five years. “I will try to end the Darian odyssey,” he said.

The president, who will take office on July 1, explained while referring to the border closure that he would “launch a repatriation process with full respect for human rights with international assistance.”

“Those who come from there and those who want to come know that those who come here will go back to their own country,” warned Mulino, who spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Tuesday. In the call, they discussed, among other topics, “the importance of working to manage migration in a safe and humane manner,” according to the country's embassy in Panama.

Controversial propositions

José Raúl Mulino's speech during the declaration lasted for almost half an hour, during which he, as he said, mainly gave details on what it means to address the challenges and controversial issues in the country.

One of them is the proposal to guarantee water for navigation through the Panama Canal, for which he expressed, “as soon as possible”, he seeks to meet with the administrator of the maritime waterway, Ricardo Vasquez.

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“The board of directors of the canal is supposed to propose to the administration the laws defining the limits and the basins, and the constitution mandates that the Indio River be returned to the Panama Canal, and it is their responsibility to do that. They said they were going to put water in the tunnel, the lake, that's the essence of us as a nation,” argued the president-elect.

Building a reservoir with the Indio River, the Panama Canal's water source, is an issue that many agricultural organizations have expressed their disapproval of, considering it endangers a valuable resource such as water.

How to address the migration crisis in Darien?

Darien Forest

Another contentious issue Mulino mentioned in his speech is the Social Security Fund, whose pension and retirement system is in crisis. In this regard, he emphasized, “I will try to create a minimum consensus before sending the proposal presented by the working committee to the assembly.”


Considering these and other decisions he had to make, José Raul Mulino announced in his speech that he would invite his political opponents, after July 1, the day of his inauguration, “to a dialogue in the Presidency of the Republic, to create a minimum consensus”.

The president-elect, who was elected last Sunday, on May 5, congratulated what he called “independent power,” raising the turnout rate in past elections.

“Twenty representatives give me great confidence. I extend my hand to them to work together on things that are good for the country,” he added.

Declared to rule Panama until June 30, 2029, Mulino declared himself a “pro-private business leader” that he promised would create jobs.

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