VICE News host Paola Ramos on the Migrant Journey

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PAOLA RAMOS, VICE NEWS HOST: I think when we’re trying to understand what is driving migrants to the United States, you have to understand the desperation. And I think, in that border, through that jungle, you understand that migrants are so desperate to reach the United States, they’re so desperate to attain this American dream that we’re constantly talking about, that they are willing to risk their lives and cross up to ten days through one of the world’s most dangerous jungles, which is in (inaudible). So, in that jungle, you recognize what desperation means. You also recognize that migrants aren’t just coming from Central America, they’re coming from all different parts of the world. And you understand that the journey to U.S. may look many different ways.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: And we heard, obviously, in the clip you talking about jaguars and scorpions and – and what else is there that makes it so dangerous? Ten days through the jungle is unbearable to even think of. Are there – are there, I don’t know, gangs and other such things?

RAMOS: That’s right. Of course. So to give everyone an idea, this is 66 miles of jungle, right. This is between Colombia and Panama. In the Colombian side of the jungle, that’s controlled by Glandin Welfo. Glandin Welfo is one of Colombia’s most powerful cartel groups. And so, there really is no way of crossing that part of the jungle without their yes, right, without their affirmation. So, you first depend on them to cross. You’re not only then encountering different types of animals, but once you make it to the Panamanian side of the border, it was so dangerous that even our crew, our VICE News crew had to leave because the Panamanian side is what is more known as the lawless territory. Every single migrant that I spoke to once they had finished that route, every single one of them told me that they had been robbed in that side, that they had seen dead bodies, and many, many people had seen other people being raped, and that is everything that is happening on the Panamanian side of El Ladian. I didn’t talk to single person that had not been attacked and in a different version of that.

AMANPOUR: So I don’t know whether you crossed as, you know, with the migrants on the Panamanian side, but you certainly talked to some of the coyotes. So, of course, those are the human traffickers. They’re the smugglers. They’re the people that extort or extract money from the migrants, and they’re also the people who are telling the migrants right now that, hey, you can come across because Joe Biden says it’s OK, which he doesn’t. But I want to play a click of you talking to one of these coyotes.

About This Episode EXPAND

Paola Ramos; Nasser al-Kidwa; Phillip Atiba Goff; Tracie Kessee; Mahani Teave