Elimination of Darien´s Gap
Who will it truly benefit?
Darien´s Gap is an undeveloped, thick forest dividing Panama from Colombia. It is very short, about 160km, but because of the thickness of the forest and swamps it is very difficult to pass through it to go to Colombia. There is a wide debate that has been going through a long time ago deciding whether to open it or not. There are many reasons and factors that may be positive and also negatives for Panama and the complete American continent to eliminate this barrier that divides North/Central America with South America and it is the missing link of the Pan-American Highway. History of Darien´s Gap
The Darien´s Gap is home of the Embera-Wounaan and Guna Indians where they travel by a canoe and crop mostly corn, mandioca, plantains, and bananas where land is developed. There are two big national parks in Darien, Darien National Park, the largest national park in Central America and Los Katios national park. There has been many expeditions that have crossed Darien´s Gap with off-road vehicles but the first one in a vehicle was in 1959-1960 with a Land Rover and Jeep expedition with Panamanian´s Armando Arauz, his wife Reina Torres de Araúz, former Special Air Service man Richard E. Bevir , and engineer Terence John Whitfield. This first vehicular expedition lasted 136 days and averaging 201 meters per hour. The thick forest serves as a hiding spot for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) which they done countless assassinations, kidnaps, and lots of human rights violations during decades fighting against the Colombian Government. The Gap also serves as a barrier to difficult drug smuggling to the other side of the continent, even though they have very old paths that Indians have created where they contraband all kids of stuff, and serves protection to Panamanian citizens from this guerrilla people and bad intentioned foreigners. Elimination of the Gap
There are many debates of why and why not eliminating the gap will be positive. Opening the gap will make possible to travel from Alaska to la Patagonia by car, there have efforts made for decades to open this trail in order for the Pan-American Highway be completed and people could be able to travel without hassles. The first planning began in 1971 by the United States and then in 1992 by the United Nations, but both plans were stopped by the concerns of environmentalists of making serious damage to the environment because of so much biodiversity of species and plants that may be found in Darien´s forest. There is also evidence that the Darién Gap has prevented the spread of diseased cattle into Central and North America, which have not seen foot and mouth disease since 1954, and since at least the 1970s this has been a substantial factor in preventing a road link through the Darién Gap. The indigenous tribes Embera-Wounaan and Guna are also concerned that the construction of a road could potentially eradicate their cultures and population. While the Colombian president Alvaro Uribe has explained his ideas that building that road would be a strategy to fight criminals that take advantage of the natural barriers to hide from the authorities. Panamanian government disagrees because thinks that the gap serves as a natural protection against FARC guerrillas wishing to enter their territory, which is completely possible and put in danger the Panamanian people. In the Panamanian newspaper ¨La Estrella¨ Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli said ¨We Panamanians must try to evolve and start seeing things in a much practical point of view, every time someone mentions the opening of Darien´s gap people gets mad. The Panamanian president said that if the gap was opened he would do it protecting the environmental issues. Honestly I think he hasn´t really think much about it because it is merely impossible to not...
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