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A Call to Action: The Failure of Capitalism and Government Responsibility in the Migration Crisis

The distressing journey of migrants and asylum seekers through the Darién Gap, as highlighted by the Human Rights Watch report "Neglected in the Jungle: Protection and Assistance Inadequate for Migrants and Asylum Seekers Crossing the Darién Gap" (April 2024), exposes a deep-rooted failure of existing and well-reinforced capitalist systems and governmental responsibilities at their most fundamental level: to protect citizens from violence. The dire situation of these individuals, families, and communities, especially Black migrants starting their journey from places as far as Africa and Haiti, transcends mere migration issues and sheds light on the catastrophic consequences of capitalist imperatives and the neglect of multiple governments towards their human lives.

The Harsh Reality of the Darién Gap

Crossing the Darién Gap, a dangerous jungle between Colombia and Panama, has become a deadly risk for more than half a million people in 2023 alone, in search of hope and safety, according to the report. This journey, plagued with sexual violence, robbery, and assault—often at the hands of armed groups exploiting their vulnerability—highlights a chilling abandonment by those in power. The report emphasizes the systemic neglect and specific vulnerabilities encountered by Black migrants, presenting a grim panorama of exploitation and suffering.

Capitalist Structures and Government Inaction

The critical situation in the Darién Gap and the advocacy of Black-led organizations for more urgent support highlight the fundamental flaws of a capitalist system that prioritizes profit over human lives. Governments, influenced by capitalist interests that do not focus on the needs of human beings, fail to provide the most basic protections to people in human mobility, nor to those within their borders. This negligence is not merely an oversight but a structural feature of a system that sees migrants not as needy human beings but as unwanted burdens or opportunities for exploitation.

In the journey through the Darién Gap, the actions—or rather, the inactions—of the Colombian and Panamanian governments, along with the response of well-funded international organizations within the broader human rights framework, underscore a profound systemic failure and expose the lucrative business of migration in the Latin America and Caribbean region. These entities and institutions charged with defending and ensuring the rights of migrants often fall short of their goal. Predominantly, their policies are inclined to regulate the flow of migrants from a national security standpoint rather than addressing the fundamental issues that drive displacement or ensuring the life and rights of migrants. An approach to migration from a human rights perspective would reveal a system change where human dignity is placed above the interests of nationalist and capitalist agendas.

The response to the migration crisis at the Panama-Colombia border is critically undermined by the operational approaches and composition of some of the most prominent international organizations, which are well-funded and led by individuals who fail to generate racial or cultural empathy with the migrant population that arrives every day and whom they are supposed to serve. This misalignment significantly detracts from the effectiveness of the services provided, due in part to language barriers and a marked lack of representation that reflects the diverse identities of the migrant populations. Such discrepancies not only undermine the relevance and effectiveness of the support offered but also fuel a deeper disconnect between the migrants and these organizations. When leadership and staff do not reflect the diversity of these communities, especially Black migrants from African countries and Haiti, it leads to a fundamental misunderstanding of their needs and sensitivities.

Given the conditions faced by migrants traversing paths through the region, such as the Darién Gap, the role, guidance, and leadership of AfroResistance and other social justice organizations and groups led by Black people become even more critical. Our organizational work, based on the pursuit of justice and the defense of human rights for Black communities in the Americas, demands not only our continuous commitment but an effective response from governmental institutions such as the National Migration Service, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, in addition to international cooperation organizations and agencies established in the country.


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