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Millie Weaver: We're about to go deep inside the most dangerous jungle between Panama and Colombia. The Darién Gap with war correspondent Michael Yon. In this two-part series, we'll see how a broken U.S. immigration policy and an open border incentivize tens of thousands of migrants to risk their lives and the lives of their children in bargaining with drug cartels and human traffickers.
Unidentified Individual: Moms carrying babies, no clothes, no shoes. There were a bunch of people who actually didn't have shoes.
Unidentified Individual: I said, did anybody die? She said, Man, there are dead people everywhere. I saw all kinds of dead bodies.
Millie Weaver: Risking it all just to take a chance. Many die tragically. And the Biden administration advertising an open U.S. border policy has only made it worse.
Unidentified Individual: Last year, there was an all-time record of 1.7 million illegal border crossings, and just last month, 221,000 migrants crossed into the U.S., the highest monthly total ever recorded.
Millie Weaver: Part one. I'm Millie Weaver, and you're watching the Millennial Millie show. Today, we're here with Michael Yon, one of America's top war correspondents, and he's coming to us from the jungles in Panama. Michael, now you've been telling me about how you have been following some of these migrant caravans through the jungles. Tell us about what's going on down there.
Michael Yon: It's been down in the Dairy and Gap. Most people have never heard of the Dairy and Gap. There's a highway called Highway one, the Pan-American Highway, that goes all the way from Alaska up there to Tierra del Fuego. But it's got one gap. Otherwise, you can ride your bicycle from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. That one gap is more than 60 miles. It ends in a town called Jovita in Panama. And that's where the road ends. And then you've got more than 60 miles of some of the most epic jungle in the world. And then it starts again back down in Colombia. And, you know, of all the jungles I've been in, all jungles are epic. That's the definition of a jungle. But some are more epic than others. And I would say the two most intense I've been in have been the Sunderbans in Bangladesh. And this one, I mean, the terrain gap is incredible.
Michael Yon: So I met this Somali woman in Tapachula who came through here about six weeks ago. And I said, did anybody die? And she said, man, there are dead people everywhere. I saw all kinds of dead bodies. She said people fall off of things. They drown. They get washed away. They die of dysentery, just everything. And she said there were several people who were still alive but couldn't go any further. They couldn't walk. And so they were just waiting to die out there. One woman is a big, heavyset woman that couldn't make it up the hill of death. And so she had been out there, she said, for 24 days. People kept beating her, but she couldn't go back, and she couldn't go forward. So she said she was just waiting for God to take her.
Michael Yon: The river is dangerous today. Very dangerous. And we don't have enough life jackets because people are coming. That actually wouldn't have any at all. But I kept pushing for life jackets, so we ended up only with nine. So I don't have one, but others do.
Millie Weaver: The Biden administration has basically had this open border policy, and we've seen record numbers of migrants flooding in over the Texas border and the California border. So what are we anticipating here? I mean, are we seeing any large numbers of migrant caravans coming through again? Are the volumes larger than normal? Are the criminal groups larger than normal? What's going on down there?
Michael Yon: Yeah, this is a very special case. Most people have never heard of Darien Gap, and most people are familiar with this come from places like Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and El Salvador that sort of thing. That's the Northern Triangle in Mexico, right? But I'm way upstream from that. And so down here, the people that come through the Darien Gap, which would be like 130,000 last year, most ever under Biden, about 10%, we estimate, died, so there'd be 13,000 or so died. I've never seen so many vultures, and almost nobody's ever heard of it. It's epic. I'm out there all the time. So many people from over 100 countries start in South America because they can't get visas to come closer, like people from Yemen, Somalia, Congo, Cameroon, and Pakistan. I'm seeing mainland Chinese and Afghans. You wouldn't believe it like the Haitians. And the Cubans generally start in Surinam, the northernmost country in South America. It's an old Dutch colony. They still speak Dutch there. Right. And so the Haitians and the Cubans go to Surinam. Right. And last year, those two groups comprised about 50% of all the migrants who came through. But now, with the leftist meltdown in Venezuela, Venezuelans must comprise. I'm going to be, to be directionally accurate, maybe 30%. So they're now the predominant group. And then the Haitians and the Cubans are, you know, those three groups are now at least 50%, and I would probably say more like 60, 70. And then the rest of them come from just everywhere, Afghanistan every day now and that sort of thing. And so and so they all flood it. They come to different parts of South America. They may start in Chile. Many start with Ecuador or Peru because they can get visas or Brazil. Right. And then they'll feed up to Colombia.
Michael Yon: This is where they come in from. So that's the first concrete anybody touches right there when they come in from the jungle.
Michael Yon: And I've gone down to the Colombian side, quite dangerous cartel. Just shut that border at the Darian Gap last week while I was there. They shut the Colombian cartel and shut the border like our government says it can't do, which is nonsense. We can easily shut it. But what happened was a cartel leader that runs the Colombian cartel at Darian Gap on the Colombian side was extradited to the United States for something cartel-related. And then the cartel said, okay, we're going to shut the border. I don't know what good it does, but that's what they did. And so that shut the migrants for a while. They were shut when I just left a few days ago. I don't know if they're open again. I'll have to get on there and look for myself because this isn't really reported in the news. Right? I've been down there on the Colombian side last year, and you're not getting through there without getting scarfed up by the cartel, period. Right. You might do it on the Mexican border, where I've spent a lot of time as well. But on this one, there's no way you're very channelized. In fact, you have to get on boats.
Michael Yon: For the last part, I've taken the boats from the cochlea to a place called Copper Ghana. So those are cartel-operated boats. I mean, unless you can swim like 50 miles, you know what I mean? You're going to or however far it was, it was an hour and a half or something. It was very far. And, you know, you will not get through there without paying the cartels, period. But so why they closed it, I don't know. But they did. And so now once you get to the Panamanian side, now you've got to go through these three main big mountains. The third one is called the Montana de la Muerte, the Mountain of Death. And that's where a huge number of people fall off and die and or they're injured. And then they can't move, and they die because nobody can carry them. Every once in a while, somebody gets carried out with a broken leg or something. It's very difficult because you're still far out there. And then after that, that's where really a lot of people start getting lost and never seen again. And then they do what's called the three crossings.
Michael Yon: You have to go through three major rivers and lots of little streams and huge numbers of people. You can hear this airport behind me. I just chartered an airplane and was flying the path some days ago. And you can see people camping on the river below. This is a rainforest triple canopy, and many of these people are from places like Port au Prince. They're from cities. They don't know anything about flash floods. And so we can see their tents. They camp on the sandbars and get washed away. Like one group of 40, they lost 20, 20 dead. Right. So started with 40, 20 got washed away, and others died from other things. So if you make it through the mountain of death and you don't get lost, and you make it through the three crossings, and you don't get swept away in malaria and dengue and cholera and so many things, waterborne don't get you. Now you have to face the Indians. Remember, first, you started with the cartels, and they do kill people on the Columbia side. Now you're faced with the Indians, the Kuna Indians whom I was just out with, and the Embera and Wounaan Indians.
Michael Yon: How long did it take you to get to the Darien Gap? How long did it take you to walk?
Unidentified Individual: Five days.
Michael Yon: Five days? Well, you guys are fit.
Unidentified Individual: All jungle.
Michael Yon: Was it dangerous?
Unidentified Individual: Yeah. Many, many people dead.
Michael Yon: In your group died. How many?
Unidentified Individual: Seven, eight people.
Michael Yon: In your group?
Michael Yon: They were Cubans?
Unidentified Individual: Yeah, Cubans.
Michael Yon: That's terrible. It's not easy. In your group?
Unidentified Individual: Yeah, my is 50-55 people. Or the group is 70-75.
Michael Yon: How many died out of 55 or 75?
Unidentified Individual: It depends.
Michael Yon: I mean in your group?
Unidentified Individual: People that sleep beside the river, all dead because the river rises up.
Unidentified Individual: The robbers.
Unidentified Individual: About four times. We were robbed four times.
Unidentified Individual: For me, two times.
Michael Yon: With guns?
Unidentified Individual: Yeah. Guns.
Michael Yon: Did you keep your phone and knife?
Unidentified Individual: Would you describe robbers?
Unidentified Individual: Difficult.
Unidentified Individual: What country do you think the robbers are from? What do you think from here in Panama?
Unidentified Individual: From here in Panama, Costa Rica, or all the countries. Maybe Colombia.
Unidentified Individual: Were they on horses?
Unidentified Individual: Yeah.
Unidentified Individual: Did they have guns?
Unidentified Individual: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Michael Yon: You saw the robbers kill them? What did they do? I mean, they shoot them or stab them or what?
Unidentified Individual: Shoot.
Michael Yon: They were shooting women, too?
Unidentified Individual: Yes.
Unidentified Individual: Women, too.
Unidentified Individual: How many?
Michael Yon: They shot a woman with children?
Unidentified Individual: Yes.
Michael Yon: What happened to the children?
Unidentified Individual: Killed.
Michael Yon: They killed the children? Where was she from? The children and the mother?
Unidentified Individual: Two from Venezuela.
Michael Yon: Did you see this happen? You saw them kill a woman and children?
Unidentified Individual: Yes.
Michael Yon: Did they get robbed?
Unidentified Individual: Yes.
Unidentified Individual: They had mostly handguns for about four days, and they got continually robbed. They took their clothes, their shoes, and whatever jewelry they had. If they had any money, they took that.
Unidentified Individual: Tell them they looked pretty tough. The guys didn't have guns when they found their faces.
Unidentified Individual: The treacherous trip that they've been on. They're just beaten down. I mean, I can, I can hardly even move, you know, babies, moms carrying babies, no clothes, no shoes. There were a bunch of people who actually didn't have shoes as well.
Michael Yon: Right. When they were coming in.
Unidentified Individual: Yeah. Yeah. It seemed like the people that are actually in the village seem a little bit better than the people that are coming in at the front side.
Unidentified Individual: He's dehydrated as that feels warm. They're very dehydrated. Yeah. Was he the one? I think trying to give them water earlier. They'll be able to help.
Michael Yon: Did she show that show? The doctor? Yeah. You're up, man. You're up. Okay. Yeah.
Michael Yon: The Embera Indians have been out with quite a lot. Wounaan not as much, but I was just out with them last week. The Embera Indians kill a huge number of migrants. In fact, I spent I've spent months out with them. They come on horseback. They go full Comanche. They've got firearms, they've got rifles, shotguns, pistols, knives. And everybody down there has machetes like a pocket knife. Everybody's got one, right. They kill a lot of migrants every single day. It's not a once in a while occurrence. It's seven days a week. Right. And a lot of times when the dry season comes, which starts in December and January, then you might get through without getting hassled because you just overwhelm the number of Indians that are going to rob you. In fact, we took one of the Indians up to Washington some months ago. His name is Francisco Agape. He's like the chief of Cajamarca, which is the reservation one. I've spent months with him, and he is like, you know, this is devastating our community.
Michael Yon: The stores make a lot of money. But smell that smell. And last time we were here, they were defecating all over this. Basketball court. You can see all the trash in the river a lot more than normal.
Unidentified Individual: That's what we were talking about. And it would be a good idea to have projects, especially if they're going to be staying here any length of time.
Unidentified Individual: You know, cleanup day, right? But let's get the trash clean. Yeah, because this village is doing a favor to these people by helping them. Yeah, but I hate to see it destroyed.
Michael Yon: So it's destroying the Indian communities as well. He's lost control over them. I had Francisco and others who paid for his wake talking with. I don't know, maybe ten congress members. I was with him when he talked with all of them. And I've taken two congress members out there. Tom Tiffany from Wisconsin and Burgess Owens from Utah. Took them with no security way out under the jungle.
Millie Weaver: This sounds like a very perilous trip.
Michael Yon: When last time we went out with the congressman, this area was a little bit dangerous. The strainer. And we bounced off that wall over there and bounced off that side.
Michael Yon: Different times I come down here. There are actually fully pregnant women that somehow make it. I mean, I've got video of that, and you're like, I don't know how she did it. One woman we saw I was down there with Chuck Colton and Masako. Have you met Masako? I've had Masako out in the Darien Gap from Japan. We were down in Columbia, and there was a man with his mother who was in a wheelchair. And he had to carry her. We were like. He's not going to make it. Do you know what I mean? They're going to die in the jungle. They made it. We saw him on the other side. They made it.
Millie Weaver: But that's the exception, not the rule. I mean, it sounds like in some instances, women make it, and women are carried by men or, you know like pregnant women somehow are very strong and are able to. But I mean, the media, you often hear about the migrant caravans, and you just hear women and children, women and children. So these migrants that are coming through this jungle and this particular area, I mean, it sounds like it's mostly male migrants coming from other countries to try to make this journey.
Michael Yon: You can see my videos. I have them on locals, a lot of videos, you know, and you can see the ratio yourself. But I tell you, a lot of children come out without their parents because their parents were killed or died out there. And other people scarf up the children and bring them out. And sometimes they're so young, nobody, even the child, doesn't speak a language yet. So nobody even knows where the child is from. They might just say it looks African, you know, and so they'll try to find where it's from, if not. And they can't find any families, so they put it in a Panamanian school, and it grows up Panamanian citizens. I see children down there that have no parents because their parents just died like two days ago, that sort of thing. You'll hear people say. I found this child. I found this child dying, crying, holding on to its mother. I have a video from about two weeks ago. I didn't make it. I got it from a Haitian man who's now in Mexico. We're chatting on WhatsApp. There's a pregnant woman dead, and her face is eaten off by something.
Michael Yon: There's a man hanging in a tree beside the body, apparently, of his dead son. Many people told that story because it kind of shocked me. I mean, I must have heard that story from 15 or 20 people because, you know, several days worth of people kept telling that same story. There's a man hanging next to a little boy. These sorts of things. They're just over and over and over. You can't be there for 5 minutes without hearing about all the bodies. People stepped over, or then the women got washed away in flood, or we were sleeping, and it got loud. And then they were screaming, and they were gone. It was dark. It was so frightening. And then the Indians came on the horse and, you know, she said she didn't have any money, but they found stuff, so they shot her, and then they shot her child. I mean, this is over and over and over. This is not something you hear once in a while. This is something you hear from everybody you interview.
Millie Weaver: It sounds like a nightmare. It sounds horrific.
Millie Weaver: Have you talked to any of these migrants and asked them why they're coming?
Michael Yon: Oh, yeah. I mean, one of the things that are quite interesting, mainly this is strange because when you hear, I would not wish this on my worst enemy, I thought that was an American saying. But other people I've taken out of here, you keep hearing that same thing from whether it's Haitians or Cubans or Arabs or others. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Like it's amazing. You'll hear that from like two different two dozen different cultures, the same exact words. And another thing that you hear over and over and over is I didn't realize how hard it was. I would never do that again.
Michael Yon: Where are you from?
Unidentified Individual: Cuba.
Michael Yon: The bad news is it might not be anybody left to talk with.
Millie Weaver: Michael was telling me about how his buddy, who he brought down there, brought his MyPillow down there with him through the jungle to have a nice pillow to sleep on. So remember, you can support real journalism by going to MyPillow.com and getting yourself your own pillow so you can have a good night's sleep throughout all this chaos that's going on. And use promo code Millie, M-I-L-L-I-E, to get up to 66% off at MyPillow.com. You can also go to QuxTV and check out the new QuxTV boxes, the future of the big tech fight where Qux is taking on Google and Apple with new electronic devices that don't spy on you. They don't collect your data. You have the utmost privacy, and you can upload your own videos and content. You can even upload your products and sell them in a brand new virtual economy. Make sure you check it out, QuxTV, and use the promo code, Millie, to save up to $15 off your purchases. Help support real journalism and real news. I'm Millie Wever signing off.
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