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The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper
The Trek: A Migrant Trail To America. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired May 12, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): To open up legal pathways and alleviate the burden that communities like mine face.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we certainly need both parties working together on this. It's something that they haven't done in a long time on this issue. It will certainly help issues like this and communities like El Paso.
Congresswoman, thanks very much for your time.
ESCOBAR: Thank you, Jim.
ACOSTA: All right. That's the news. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. See you here next weekend. The new CNN program, "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER" premieres next. Have a good night, everybody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Coming up on THE WHOLE STORY.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: This is just one enormous traffic jam of people through the jungle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody maybe die here.
WALSH (through text translation): You are here all by yourself?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on-camera): Good evening. Welcome to THE WHOLE STORY. I'm Anderson Cooper.
Starting tonight, we are bringing you the best of CNN storytelling from our reporters and anchors all over the world. It's one whole story one whole hour every Sunday at 8:00 p.m.
Tonight we take you on a dangerous and difficult journey through the Darien Gap, the only land route connecting South America to Central America. It's a 66-mile stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama. So migrants hoping to get to the U.S. have to get through the Darien Gap first. That means trekking through rivers and mud and up steep mountainsides. Along the way they face exhaustion, disease, drowning, and the very real risk of being robbed, assaulted or even killed. So far this year five times as many people have made this journey compared to the same period last year, and a record number of them are children.
To see what they face, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and his team recently walked the entire route. Some of the things he saw along the way are graphic and hard to watch, but we want you to see the reality of what's happening on "The Trek: A migrant Trail to America."
WALSH (voice-over): Sometimes a dream sells you a nightmare first. And beauty is deepest in a place you may never get out of. And the need to keep moving is the only thing left to carry. A quarter of a million humans last year walked for four deadly days through this, the Darien Gap. An untold number do not make it. A much, much bigger number do. And with every moment of success, resilience and even cost them suffering evermore come. The world may be on the move because of climate, conflict and corruption. But here is where the most of them are on foot.
These are the stories of people from just five days. An endless trail in the jungle of pain, hope, loss and grit. Through the world's biggest hole in the fence.
They gather under a glowering dusk as if to say goodbye to their old lives in the hope the dawn ahead is new of a promise and an opportunity they have never known before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): Don't be afraid of the terror in the night. Nor of the arrows that fly by day. Nor of the pestilence that walks in the dark. We won't be afraid of bugs. We won't be afraid of serpents, snakes, scorpions.
WALSH: But it's not a prayer that decides who make it. It's money. This is a large voluntary trafficking operation run by a drug cartel who control the route and are the law in this part of the Colombian border near Panama. You pay to get here, you pay to overnight here, you pay to walk on.
There were just over 800 people in this camp in Acandi Seco from Haiti, Venezuela, Ecuador, even China and India. The pandemic turned the tough into the unlivable for Manuel and his wife Tamara in Venezuela. We've changed people's names for their safety.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): It's thanks to our beautiful president. The situation forced us. The dictatorship. It's all thanks to that man that we're in this. The reason for this journey is to give our family the best. That's why we're bringing our kids and we're not going alone. It's all of us or no one.
WALSH: At dawn, the first thing that strikes you is how few of them seem to grasp what's coming, gently packing crackers and tying sneakers, like waving a Kleenex at a storm. The second thing that strikes you is how organized the cartel wanted to seem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): The first ones will be the last. The last ones will be the first. That is why we shouldn't run. Racing brings fatigue.
WALSH: They only walk when they're told to. The stories here are many, but there is only one goal. America. And the dream is just that. A revery of hope, of conviction that they will be the ones to make it over danger, disease, dehydration, deportation, about this number every day every year almost doubling.
The Darien Gap is the only land corridor from South America, where entry is easier to its north, where it's not. There were no roads, only 66 miles of treacherous jungle from Colombia to Panama, and onwards north. 3,000 miles to the U.S. border.
We walked the entire route of the Darien Gap over five days in February to document the suffering endured by people milked for cash by cartels, unwanted by any country.
(On-camera): What's startling is the sheer number of children on this trek as it begins on a route sometimes adult don't even survive.
(Voice-over): We heard Jean-Pierre's son, Louvens, coughing all last night. But still they set out whatever is ahead, Haiti, its heat, hunger and hellish chaos, is at least at their backs. There are the older two, 58-year-old Maria, a teacher from Venezuela, who's monthly salary of $16 can't feed anyone. So she and her daughter, Yendry (PH), are headed to Houston, hopefully to relatives.
(On-camera): We've only been going a matter of hours and it just seems an endless series of river crossing. Some distance of just constant water. I'm pretty exhausted.
(Voice-over): Manuel and Tamara like many here trying to keep the kids going with treats. And then there are those whose jungle it is, the wildlife. One bite from this snake and you may never leave. The walk is organized as that makes more money. In fact, the cartel gave us permission to be here as if to parade that.
These discarded color-coded armbands show which day and route people have paid for. The football shirt are porters, each numbered, charging to carry bags, even children uphill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Hey, my kings, my queens. Whoever feels tired, I'm here.
WALSH: But it doesn't always work out. Wilson is separated from his parents. That porter raced off ahead.
(Through text translation): My name is Nick. Nice to meet you. You are here all by yourself. Yes? You're waiting for your parents? Where are they?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): They are behind.
WALSH: They're here. Yes.
(Through text translation): Are you going to America? Where are you going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): To Miami.
WALSH (through text translation): What do you like about Miami?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Daddy is going to build a swimming pool.
WALSH (through text translation): He will build a pool for you? What do you want to be when you grow up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): To work.
WALSH (through text translation): What work?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): School work. And my sister has chosen nurse.
WALSH: Nearly a thousand unaccompanied children were found on the route last year, the U.N. have said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Fill up your water. One bottle of water up there costs five dollars. I know many of you don't have the money to buy it. So it's better to take your water from here.
WALSH: Louvens' cough is worse. He is now struggling to breathe at all. His fever peeking under the canopy.
The first wave of exhaustion stumbles through the trees into this called Laye (PH), the first camp for the first night under the canopy.
They are still chain-sawing their way into the forest here. Cheap tents on freshly fallen trees. Chilled Gatorades for $4. Nothing stops the money here, tearing through nature in its way. The people are coming faster than they can make space for them.
WALSH: Their second dawn and the scale of the task ahead, the size of the crowd they are in these cramped spaces becomes clear lines on the slopes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Take care of your children. Human trafficking, a friend or anyone could take your child and sell his organs. So take care of your children. Don't give your children to strangers.
WALSH (on-camera): It's organized, isn't it? But this is probably where a lot of that stops as we start heading in to Panama. (Voice-over): The mist clings to the trees, making the climb for it
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): I have to hold the stick. So that you guys can grab me.
WALSH: Some children embrace it all, bounding upwards playfully.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): Go up, honey.
WALSH: Even in their socks. When the mud starts claiming shoes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): No, with the other. With the other one. With the other foot. With that one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Give her a hand.
WALSH: Louvens is looking worse still. His father too exhausted it seems to intervene and already at this point really out of choices but to go forward.
JEAN-PIERRE, MIGRANT: There you go. He is sleeping.
WALSH: Others have come here with little but their will to move. Propelled forward by knowing what is behind them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): Oh, God. I'm going, little by little. I sat down to rest and eat breakfast. To continue to have strength. Darling, give me water. It's so hard to live there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): It's very dangerous.
WALSH (on-camera): A university?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
WALSH: What happened there?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard, live with a lot of violence. I studied with two people that are killed.
WALSH (voice-over): This is the dry season, but still at times it feels impossible. And then the sky clears. This is the border at the summit. But from here on they're on their own.
WALSH: Up here their heads may feel lost in the clouds, even though it's the jungle mist dragging them further in. Taking on a new evil, the unknown of Panama, a country with nothing for them, bar a swift, expensive ticket on through north and leaving behind another. The cash drain of organized Colombian cartels. The porters give parting wisdom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Behave. Always. Don't fight on the way. Help whoever is in need because you never know when you're going to need help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel so tired.
WALSH: And euphoria up here is completely misplaced. Slowly the scale of the lie some have been told emerges. This isn't a short walk ahead. Especially acute is Anna's plight. She's 12, disabled and gets epileptic convulsions. Her mother Natalia is the only one who can care for her, but it's so much harder up here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): Her fever has not gone down. How to make it go away?
WALSH: She later tells us she was told the descent was a matter of two hours. But it's not. And literally meters from Colombia the ground turns.
(On-camera): People as they walk, just discarding their shoes. A real sense of the atmosphere changing now, we cross the border into Panama. People clumping together, perhaps fearing for their own safety, and its mud. It's just impossibly going and get your feet out of it.
(Voice-over): This man who didn't want to be named now with nothing on his feet but his resolve. Pause and imagine where you've come from if you're willing to do this barefoot with a woolen sweater and plastic bags. Pierce your feet or break an ankle and this mud maybe your grave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): Don't take me through the high parts. God help me. Give me patience.
WALSH: The mother Natalia has managed to find a Haitian man to help her move her disabled daughter Anna.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Because she's limping, she can't walk. I'm helping her mom. I can't. It's very dangerous. She can't walk, she can't, can't walk.
WALSH (on-camera): So much of this route is insanely steep and so many of the people that we've spoken to on the way are complaining about how this was nothing like the easy route they were promised.
(Voice-over): Understandably it doesn't take long for the Haitian volunteer to tire. Anna might be having a fit or just tired or both. Or neither. This could be how she often gets. We just don't know. And without her mother, way back behind her on the trail, nobody really knows what she needs. The Haitian migrant who helped begins cutting a stretcher, hoping others will come.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): He was the only one who helped because everyone else just passed by.
WALSH: But they all face the same problem. They can't move her without taking her further from her mother, so she is stuck waiting. But sometimes the jungle throws back a moment of life. And this day it's Louvens' turn. The little boy with a terrible cough and fever we met earlier has made a miraculous recovery overnight as if another life has been breathed into him.
Sometimes the forest suddenly breaks and you realize just how many of us there are here. Even in these shallows the scraps of us as a species are overwhelming.
Ling is from Wuhan, among the growing Chinese here, who doesn't want to show his face and learned about the gap from TikTok.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First from Hong Kong.
WALSH (on-camera): From Hong Kong, OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then Thailand.
WALSH: Hong Kong then Thailand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then Turkey.
WALSH: Wow. OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then Ecuador.
WALSH: Ecuador and then Colombia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. It's not very hard. But my knees a little bit hurt. Many Chinese come here because Chinese society is not very good for live.
WALSH (voice-over): He's paused to rest his knee but also ran out of food already.
Talk on their third dawn out here turns to how much further there really is. Jean-Pierre who's told it would be a much shorter walk.
(Through text translation): It's a surprise for you to hear it's three days?
JEAN-PIERRE (through text translation): I was expecting it to be two days.
WALSH (Through text translation): So you have enough food and other things? Water?
JEAN-PIERRE (Through text translation): Right now I don't have enough food.
WALSH (through text translation): It's good that he is in better health.
JEAN-PIERRE (through text translation): It's good.
WALSH (through text translation): Were you scared?
JEAN-PIERRE (through text translation): No. I prayed to God that he keeps us, me, my son and my wife, and the others, our friends that God keeps us all safe. I prayed for that.
WALSH (voice-over): Anna, the disabled 12-year-old has been reunited with her mother. But they're again stuck and without food.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): She walks but with her current condition she cannot walk. I lost her medicine last night, but I got it now. They gave it to me because someone else was carrying the backpack.
WALSH: She says they're only here as that same medicine became unaffordable in Venezuela.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): I had to travel from Venezuela to Colombia to buy it. He told me earlier in the town of Necocli, no, your daughter can walk, this is easy. But it is not. And I thought, OK, but since then all I do is pay and pay.
WALSH: Just after dawn, they set out again. The canopy begins to feel like a shroud, entombing them, cutting them off from the future they're pushing towards. Nature's most beguiling way of saying don't come here.
For so much of every day you stare at your feet, your most vital asset here. Hoping they land safely, especially in the opaque river, where one loose footing can break an ankle.
Most migrants wear these rubber boots which fill with water curdling your feet, but Manuel and Tamara, who we met on the first night, have their eyes on the finish.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): We have to continue until the end.
WALSH: This route is littered with obstacles, chokepoints and lines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): But where are you going? Go straight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): Keep going baby.
WALSH: Hours on their feet without the comfort of knowing you're at least moving. Forever damp, striding, waiting.
(On-camera): What's crazy is over the last hour we probably haven't traveled directly about 150 to 100 yards, but this is just one enormous traffic jam of people through the jungle. Sad fact is the more they do it, the more they slow each other down of bottlenecks like this and the greater risk they put themselves on.
(Voice-over): Time and time again, though, this ordeal summons something beautiful from people. The mirrors nature here. A glue binding them to each other. To help cajole, care sometimes for strangers, of survival, survival together. It's the best of us who doesn't care what passport you're carrying. But it cannot alter the pain.
(On-camera): How are you finding the road?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is so hard. In the rocks, it's so hard. My mom fell down so many times.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): Had I known, I wouldn't have come here or let my son come through here. This is horrible, horrible, horrible. You have to live this. To live this. You to have to live this to realize that crossing through this jungle is the worst things in the world.
WALSH (voice-over): It seemed almost impossible in the chaos two days ago, but Wilson has met up again with his parents. Not in the Miami swimming pool, though, just yet.
(Through text translation): Is he in good health?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Yes, he's feeling good. Last June he had surgery. But now he is doing better.
WALSH: Exhaustion now decides everything. This camp, at first a handful of people and then sudden overflowing. Yendry admits they're out of food. They gave it all away earlier thinking this was a two-day hike. More urgently she needs to soothe her mother, who's gripped her stick too hard to stay upright. Her gloves no help.
The pristine unbothered green hides a dark, violent change that's been afoot here for years. These people have become the new weight. The new traffic. The cartels move less drugs along these routes these days, we're told. These human packages pay to move themselves. Nobody steals them. There are few arrests to be made. Nothing to raid out here. And all the risks are taken by the packages themselves.
WALSH: Each dawn is a little more desperate especially day four. Water, the stuff of life, can save but also poison. We use state of the art filters on river water to keep healthy.
(On-camera): But it's hard enough for us with all of this expensive gear to filter water and things but you wake up here and there are people burning the forest to live off it drinking straight from the stream, eating maybe the last crackers that they brought with them, thinking that the journey was just a matter of a couple of days. It's really quite depressing.
(Voice-over): The fight to live here is not just against nature.
This tent we are told was used by thieves where they spend the nights between picking their targets. It is a short walk from this, Tres Bocas, a major crossroads close to the end of the walk, where migrants camp and key rivers meet. Those who at times seemed unlikely to make it are pushing on, fueled by hearing the boats taking them to safety inside Panama are a matter of hours away. Even salvaging her stick from the water.
Yet this is where stories of survival now merged with a darker past of death and violence, where our path still relatively new and clean, used for only 12 days by the cartel, meets a much older one. Occasionally people still emerge from this route. But it's mostly walked by the ghosts of those before. Their clothes and plastic caught in the trees from when the rains took the rivers higher. Now it is flat, silent and speaks of decay.
The bodies here have traces of the past. But there's no burial, no name, no memory. No matter how busy it evidently got people were left behind. Fragments of lives abandoned or childhood interrupted are cast aside. Moments, almost frozen in time. And the sound of the river giant, yet calm. Echoing.
The people who pass us say they set out in a group of 400 from Colombia. But something has changed. Locals tell us the cartel is fracturing and now this old route competes with the new to be the safest and fastest. It's clearly losing.
This is likely a crime scene. There are three bodies here in similar decay. Little is certain, but it is unlikely they died of natural causes in the same place at about the same time. The first that of a man lying face down amid the roots on the pathway. The second is a woman on her back in the tent. The third body has a rope near her neck. She was found three weeks ago with her bra around her head, according to photographs.
Panamanian authorities were told about this three weeks earlier, but there is no indication they have been here. People just walk by. Past the cautionary tale. Nobody is heeding.
(On-camera): A reminder in a place that should be peaceful as this of the sickening violence that potentially faces migrants here every day.
(Voice-over): Vultures float above. The bones will likely soon be picked clean.
The old route we're told by one survivor who didn't want to be identified is now preyed on by armed men in ski masks. It is his second bid to reach New Jersey, where his brother lives. On the first trip masked men raped women in his group, he says. On this trip they demanded $100 from each of them just days earlier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Those who didn't have it had to stay. They hit me and another guy. They jumped him and kicked him.
WALSH (on-camera): How did these men look? What were they wearing? What were they carrying?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): All of them were hooded, with guns, knives, machetes, they had everything. WALSH: And what happens if you don't pay?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): It's God's time. God's will. Whatever they decide.
WALSH (voice-over): At Tres Bocas that night, the tents are pitched close together. Word of the thieves has spread. Plastic provides fuel. Almost catching the jungle itself. Choking the air. Talk is of food, the lack of it. They should be four hours from the boat to the rest of Panama and its roads, but the dry season has exposed the riverbed, and it could be a lot longer. And so it is only the night that floods in around their tents.
WALSH: This is the last leg, the last gasp, day five. Like so much of the journey. The next step the boats to Panama's migration processing camps are just hours away. But is it two or seven? And it sometimes does feel like the whole world is on the move just here.
I meet Mohammed, a Lebanese man who it turns out live not far from me years ago when I lived in Beirut. He's tried twice to get a U.S. visa to see his American wife in San Antonio, and his children who he says he's not seen for five years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to die, the life is very short. If I want -- I'm 55 years. If I want to die on the street I want to come. I don't care. I want to see my family. It's not easy. Maybe you would die on the street. Anybody -- look. Everybody look tired. Everybody, maybe you die here. You know that.
WALSH: But more often than you expect that does not happen because of crowds like this. Daniel from Venezuela started walking 10 days ago and has injured his ankles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Four days, stuck here. Four days. Four days. Four days without any food. Let's take him or who will find him? Let's take him. But we don't have a hammock. Let's make him a stretcher. Eat, eat, eat, brother. Who has more bread?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): I twisted my foot. Four days ago.
WALSH: Time and again something pure shines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Wait. One of the poles is loose. Wait, wait, wait. Man. Let's fix this thing.
WALSH: They've met minutes earlier but are now unified in saving a stranger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help me, help me, help me. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): That man is crazy. In
the U.S. don't they have psychologists to help this guy?
WALSH: Carrying him through the rocks puts them at risk of injury, too. Truly nobody seems to have been left behind. The disabled girl, Anna, who we last saw with her mother in a camp by the river has also found help. His real name is Ener Sanchez, age 27 from a Venezuelan- Colombian border town, and he's been carrying her for a day.
ENER SANCHEZ, MIGRANT (through text translation): She's OK. We haven't given her too much food because we're not sure since she is special. You know? We'll get there and give her a juice. I have to wait for the lady, the girl's mother.
WALSH: There is something particularly awful about these last miles. The sun is mercilessly hot. The river and the boats ahead are so much further than they would be when the river is higher. People dropped from the heat.
(On-camera): These last moments of the walk just strikes you how incredibly tough all these people are, and the sheer grit that they're showing to get this far, but also how incredibly unpleasant the places they must be fleeing from to make them endure this kind of torture, to some degree, over many days.
(Voice-over): Finally through the haze of the parched rocks, they see it. And leaving the trek is yet another ordeal. Another cost. A line again this time for $20 a head to pack into these boats. Run by the local tribe at least $300 is made on each boat. Six boats, always loading from dawn till 4:00 p.m. That's again a lot of money.
But also too many customers. There is a fight. Someone cutting in line. This may be a medical rescue helicopter.
(On-camera): That is the first that we've seen over the Panamanian government since we've arrived.
(Voice-over): The boat barely float. But like so much else, the risk is relative about what you've gone through before. The jungle trek is 66 miles only. They have 3,000 more ahead to the U.S. border with Mexico.
WALSH: Whatever reward or simple pause from pain they had hoped for they are not going to get it. The same problems somehow emerge on the water. Too many passengers to maximize profit weighs the boat down to the river bed in the low waters of dry season. They can only move when some of them get out. They barely noticed the human skull sat on a log here. A pregnant woman Belle gets a ride with us. Her son also does what he can to help us keep afloat.
Panama's government isn't even using a spoon to try and lessen the flow of humanity to here. They just whisked them on through, increasingly overwhelmed by the numbers.
We dock in Bajo Chiquito, the first reception point in Panama. They then moved to their next stop, the camps. The Panamanian authorities were keen to show us two facilities but declined to be interviewed for this report. The first was this, San Vicente. Clean, new, with plumbing and power. But then they also took us here to the gruesome limbo of Las Lajas. The wait in this camp is for the buses to neighboring Costa Rica. Each seat costing $40.
We're shown the showers barely standing as they are.
(On-camera): So there's no drainage here. All the water from shower just runs out onto the land back here. Come see this, particularly disgusting. It's the washing area. There's human feces. There's no water coming out of these taps.
(Voice-over): We meet Manuel and wife Tamara again, struggling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): It was hard. I couldn't see an end to it. I started having nightmares.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through text translation): And how was your wife?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): She was the strong one of the family. I collapsed.
WALSH: This is where dirt and their earlier exhaustion perhaps catch them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): The last pill and that's it. The oldest, 5 years old, has diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Our 1- year-old baby has heat stroke and fatigue and fever. I don't want food, nothing. I just want the buses. You can imagine how I feel, overwhelmed, anxious, worried, upset. All of it. Because after going through this whole thing and the jungle which is the most dangerous, the idea is to find better ways to keep moving forward. And we're just stuck. There's an atmosphere here that is a little bit dangerous. So you have to act like you're broke. But yes, I have the money to leave. The delay is the buses.
WALSH: Some have started working here as cleaners to earn a seat on the bus. He's been here 15 days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): We've been cleaning for two weeks. Cleaning bathrooms, everything. Don't worry, if you clean, we'll get you on a bus out of here. But the buses came last night and they only took those that had money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): If you don't have the $40 you don't leave.
WALSH: If you don't have money, you don't move. There are a few tidy endings to these stories. Many don't want to be found and end up surviving in servitude to a trafficking machine bigger and richer than they.
We lost contact with Louvens and his father, and also with Anna and her mother. Yendry and her mother Maria last told us they were in Southern Mexico, and were out of money. We don't know if Wilson made it to a Miami swimming pool.
It is sadly fitting. Their stories will soon be replaced with those of others also enduring agony limbo. Even deportation to the start. An infinite cycle, endlessly fenced with willing new souls fleeing limitless misery and throwing themselves headlong into a place where they will find great courage and sacrifice.
COOPER: More than 87,000 people tried to cross through the Darien Gap in the first three months of this year, according to the Panamanian government. Just last week, the U.S., Colombia and Panama announced they would launch a two-month campaign to try and stop people from making the dangerous journey and try to open up other ways for people to migrate.
Next week, we'll bring you around the globe to meet some extraordinary people who are helping the earth with ways to cut down on carbon, including a new technology that relies on the behavior and habits of whales.
I'll see you next Sunday.