Panama News: United States Congratulates President José Raúl Mulino

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. July 1, 2024: The United States has congratulated José Raúl Mulino on his inauguration as President of the Republic of Panama.

Newly elected President of Panama Jose Raul Mulino greets during the Inauguration Day on July 1, 2024 in Panama City, Panama. Mulino Quintero will be in office for a tenure of 5 years from 2024 to 2029 becoming the 48th constitutional president of Panama. (Photo by Enea Lebrun/Getty Images)

“Through this election, the Panamanian people expressed their collective aspirations for prosperity, security, and democratic governance,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement this afternoon, while noting that it reaffirms its long-standing partnership with Panama.

“We look forward to continuing our collaboration to strengthen institutions, advance inclusive economic growth, and promote good governance and citizen security,” the statement added. “Additionally, we aim to bolster our joint efforts to address the unprecedented level of irregular migration through the Darién and dissuade would-be migrants from attempting this extremely dangerous journey. We stand ready to support Panama as it seeks to deliver a more prosperous, secure future for all Panamanians.”

Mulino was sworn in today as Panama’s president, facing pressure to curb irregular migration through the Darién Gap, the jungle-clad and largely lawless border between Panama and Colombia.

The 65-year-old former security minister has pledged to halt migration through this corridor. Over half a million people crossed the Darién Gap last year, and more than 190,000 have already traversed it in 2024. Most of the migrants come from Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, and China.

“I won’t allow Panama to be an open path for thousands of people who enter our country illegally, supported by an international organization related to drug trafficking and human trafficking,” Mulino said Monday after being sworn in. “I understand that there are deep-rooted reasons for migration, but each country has to resolve its problems.”

Shortly after Mulino’s inauguration, the Panamanian government announced that U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas signed a memorandum of understanding with Panama’s Foreign Affairs Minister Javier Martínez-Acha. The agreement commits the U.S. government to covering the cost of repatriating migrants who enter Panama illegally through the Darién.