Poverty rate:


out of the total population.


  • Sending country: Around 162,000 Panamanians, or 4% of the population, reside abroad mainly in the US (78%), Costa Rica (7%), and Spain (3%).

  • Destination country: Around 186,000 immigrants or 4.45% of the total population live in Panama. The main countries of origin are Colombia (24%), China (11%), and the US. (8%). 

  • Transit country: migrants from Caribbean, South American, Asian, and African countries transit Panama, particularly through the Darien Gap, en route to the US. 

  • Host country for refugees: 2,500 refugees live in Panama, mainly from Colombia, Venezuela, and El Salvador.






* Weekly data update



  • Closure of borders and increased surveillance measures.

  • Passengers arriving on International flights are permitted to enter the national territory only for  humanitarian reasons and if required to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic

  • The National Customs Authority (ANA) announced that it will maintain the flow of international terrestrial transport into the national territory, under strict controls that dictate the state of emergency to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but without harming commercial activity.

  • Migration extends residence permits for foreigners.

  • 80 Migration Units join the "Panama Solidarity Plan".

  • The border with Costa Rica is closed: they do not allow the entry of migrants from African and Asian in transit through Panama.

  • A new center will be built to assist irregularized migrants who arrive in the country through the inhospitable Darien Gap jungle at the border with Colombia after more than 2,000 people were stranded when borders were closed due to COVID-19.

  • The National Government of Panama and Costa Rican authorities negotiated the implementation of a pilot plan to facilitate bilateral trade for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Border crossers had to be stopped and detained by units of the National Border Service, who used force to get them back to their shelter.

  • The Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA) will present a biosafety protocol for cargo transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic that will seek to defuse the border crisis that currently sees more than a thousand trucks stranded Costa Rica/Panama and Costa Rica/Nicaragua borders, amid alerts of shortages in the region.

  • The Government of Costa Rica reported that it will prevent Panamanian trucks from carrying product in the country. This comes as a reciprocal measure responding to treatment that Costa Rican carriers are receiving.

  • The president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), Elizabeth Odio, ruled in favor of migrants held in temporary shelters in the communities of Peñitas and in Lajas Blancas, where people were confined after crossing the dangerous Diarién jungle, on the border with Colombia.

  • Panamanian authorities strengthened surveillance at a shelter for irregular migrants after a group threatened to set fire to the site if they were not allowed to continue their journey to the north of the continent.

  • Costa Rica reported that it maintains constant police surveillance on the border with Panama (south). This statement came before the arrival of a new group of Nicaraguans who desire to enter their country.

  • The National Migration Service (SNM) is coordinating the humanitarian return of Nicaraguans who wish to return to their country. Only up to 65 people will be allowed to leave or travel at a time, with a leader or coordinator who will be in charge and responsible for organizing the procedures for departure.

  • Any grouping action by caravans, seeking an exit from the country without due authorization, is prohibited and will be penalized, warned the National Migration Service (SNM) through a statement.

  • The Italian Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, prohibited, by means of an ordinance, entry to the country by people arriving from thirteen “at-risk countries” due to the coronavirus pandemic, including Panama.

  • The Ministers of Security, Michael Soto Rojas, from Costa Rica, and Juan Manuel Pino Forero, from Panama, met at the Joint Binational Police Cooperation Center, with the intention of analyzing the migration and border security issue between both countries. They established a joint worksheet, addressed management of mixed migratory flows, and created a formal binational communication channel, and established joint operations, among other agreements.

  • The French Embassy in Panama reported that, as of July 18th, Panamanians who want to travel to that country must present a negative swab test for COVID-19.

*For more detail go to the digital achieve that we created:

In mid-March 2020, nearly every country on the continent declared a health emergency. These countries closed their borders and adopted a series of exceptional measures, arguing that forced immobility as a  solution to contain the virus. Following the shutdown of borders,  more than 30 researchers from the Americas, interested in analyzing the migratory question politically, organized virtually and began to consider the particular situation of millions of migrants, women, men, children and adolescents, from the continent and/or from other latitudes, all of whom are mobile and in transit.

Original Concept: Soledad Álvarez Velasco, University of Houston

General Coordination:Soledad Álvarez Velasco, University of Houston & Ulla D. Berg, Rutgers University

Research, Systematization and Development of Contents: Soledad Álvarez Velasco, University of Houston;  Ulla D. Berg, Rutgers University; Lucía Pérez-Martínez, FLACSO-Ecuador; Mónica Salmon, New School for Social Research; Sebastián León,  Rutgers University.

Coordination polyphonic map: Iréri Ceja Cárdenas: Museo Nacional/ Universidad Federal de Rio de Janeiro

Project Advisor: Nicholas De Genova, Universidad of Houston.


Translation team Spanish - English: 

Soledad Álvarez Velasco, Mónica Salmón, Ulla Berg, Luin Goldring, Tanya Basok, Ingrid Carlson, Gabrielle Cabrera.

Translation team Spanish - Portuguese: 

Iréri Ceja, Gustavo Dias, Gislene Santos, Elisa Colares, Handerson Joseph, Caio Fernandes, María Villarreal.

Website Design and Development:  ACHU! Studio; Francisco Hurtado Caicedo, Social Observatory of Ecuador

Photography: David Gustafsson y Cynthia Briones.

Video: David Gustafsson.

Some of the researchers of this project are members of these CLACSO Working Groups

English translation and proofreading by Gabrielle Cabrera, Rutgers University.

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