Dramatic story of a Venezuelan migrant who crossed the Darién jungle – Investigation – Justice

Alejandro*, a 33-year-old Venezuelan who attended Doctors without borders Once he managed to get to Panama, he told this NGO about the moments of despair he experienced crossing the darien plugan experience that qualifies as “the worst in the world”.

(Also read: This year would set a record for migrants crossing the Darién to reach the US).

He traveled from Colombia with his wife and 9-year-old son. Before the pandemic they lived in Peru, but the economic situation during the health emergency became so difficult that they decided to try to reach USAbut now he says that if he had really known what had to happen, he would have stayed in Colombia working, even if the money was not enough for him.

(You may be interested: The testimonies that account for the ‘nightmare’ of crossing the Darién).

‘The worst thing I have done in my life has been to cross the Darién jungle’

Before crossing to Panama, I was in Colombia, in Pereira. In 2020 I arrived walking from Peru, we had emigrated (irregularly) there in 2017. My wife and I were working, we were doing well, we both worked in good companies until the pandemic arrived and they gave us our settlements.

At that moment I thought: ‘if I stay, the food will end, the money will end and it will be worse there’. So my wife stayed in Peru with our son and the money we had. Me I walked alone to Colombia and when the international buses started leaving, they caught up with me.

In Pereira I got a job and we spent about a year and a half there, being there we already had plans to go to the United States, we felt that Colombia could become like Venezuela, that the money was not going to be enough. I went to the market with 200,000 pesos and I didn’t have enough for the week. So we decided to hit the road again, looking for better opportunities for my 9-year-old son, opportunities that for us irregular migrants I do not see in Colombia, or in Peru, or in any Latin American country.

(It might interest you: The heartbreaking video of a Colombian who crosses the Darién to go to the United States).

I didn’t know about this madness in Darien. I thought it was difficult but not that it was the worst thing in the world. I think hell fell short compared to what I went through with my wife and son there. If I could turn back time, I wouldn’t pass that jungle. I would have stayed in Colombia calm. I really don’t recommend it to anyone. I cried like a child after I managed to cross.

So was the journey

Attention of migrants after crossing the Darién

Care at the San Vicente migratory center in Panama for an irregular migrant with a foot injury. Reference image, taken on February 2, 2022.

From Pereira, my wife, my son and I took a plane to Medellín. Then we arrived in Montería, from there we took a car that took us to Necocli, which is where everyone comes from. From there we went to Capurgana and from there we return to Acandí. Later, some motorcycles took us to a shelter and that’s when we started walking through the jungle. At first everything was nice but on the third day I thought I was going to die. I was the last in the group, I couldn’t, I didn’t give, but I had to continue. My wife cried, my son cried. We were worried.

On the third day I thought I was going to die. I was the last in the group, I couldn’t, I didn’t give, but I had to continue. My wife cried, my son cried. We were worried.

Along the way we were left with nothing. We had to throw away almost everything we had because it got wet and we couldn’t bear the weight. One day the river almost carried me and my son away. If he had drowned, I would have hanged myself and my wife behind, because we would not have been able to bear it.

I don’t even know how many days we spent in the jungle. I arrived alone at the Migrant Reception Station. I had to go into the river because I didn’t know the way and I got lost. I stayed alone because supposedly when we were already arriving, we heard a boat, it was some fishermen who were digging a hole on the shore to bury a drowned person. We asked them to take us and at first they said no, then their hearts softened and they said they could only take women and children. My crying wife was able to ride with our son.

(You can read: ‘After throwing his two children, he threw himself into the void’: doctors in the Darién).

Of the group in which we came, four of us stayed and continued on our way. I couldn’t take it anymore, I had no strength. I had not eaten for three days, so two of the boys went ahead and I stayed with another, but he was worse off than me and I had to leave him on the road, he was left alone in a tent that we found abandoned.

Then I got other groups and couldn’t keep up with them. The mud was impressive, I had never seen mud like this, it reached up to your waist and made you fall many times, in one of those times I hit my knee and since I couldn’t walk well, they left me alone.

alone in the jungle

Attention of migrants after crossing the Darién

Attention to an irregular migrant after crossing the Darién. Reference photo taken in January 2022.

That night I even freaked out. I was thinking of my family. I dreamed that the trees were going to fall on me. I cried. The sound of the animals was horrible. I stayed there until 5:30 in the morning, as soon as it dawned, I got up and continued.

I drank river water in the morning and at noon and in the afternoon, because I had absolutely nothing to eat, I even tried to catch some fish to eat it raw, but I couldn’t even catch the fish because I didn’t have the strength. He walked and walked and arrived at the same place. At times I felt so desperate that I wanted an alligator to appear and swallow me.

That night I even freaked out. I was thinking of my family. I dreamed that the trees were going to fall on me. I cried. The sound of the animals was horrible

(We suggest you read: The serious risk of migrant children who cross the Darién to Panama).

In an instant it occurred to me to go into the river to follow the route and that’s how I arrived and met my family again. I was so dehydrated that they gave me three bags of IV. The worst thing I have done in my life, during my 33 years, has been to cross the Darien jungle.

Now I came to the health post to have a wound on my foot examined. I have no clothes, what I’m wearing is not mine. Now the plans are to come to the United States to work and be able to find those opportunities that I am looking for.

Sometimes I would like to return to my country and live peacefully there, but what if I don’t even have money to set up a business or help my family? What would my son live on in Venezuela? What good studies could I give him? At the moment I see the future very hard.

*Name changed for source security.

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