Minister Mouynes delivers keynote speech on migration at Brown University

Minister Mouynes delivers keynote speech on migration at Brown University

Today, Minister Mouynes delivered a keynote address to kick off Brown University’s second Mellon Sawyer Seminar focused on the history of migration in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

During her speech, Mouynes spoke with students and faculty about the migration crisis that Panama and the broader region faced last year, emphasizing Panama’s role as a convener of regional partners, aligning national strategies to effectively manage migration, care for migrants, and dismantle cross-border criminal human smuggling operations. 

Minister Mouynes described the two-pronged approach that Panama took to addressing this crisis. First, Panama sounded the alarm on the international stage, catalyzed by a regional ministerial summit on migration in August 2021. This led to coordination among neighboring countries, including the U.S., which Mouynes credited for “providing security and intelligence assistance that has been invaluable in our fight against cartels.” 

At the same time, Panama began efforts to address the root causes of migration on a regional level. As one example, following the earthquake in Haiti last summer, Panama activated its Regional Logistics Center for Humanitarian Assistance, one of only six such facilities worldwide and the only one based in the Americas. In addition, Panama partnered with Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic to form the Alliance for Development in Democracy, seeking to strengthen democratic institutions and unlock economic opportunities for the entire region. 

At the conclusion of her speech, Minister Mouynes pointed to the results of Panama’s approach: “We’ve seen the daily average number of migrants passing through Panama fall from 2,460 in August to 140 today, and we’ve strengthened mechanisms of cooperation with the U.S. and other partners in the process. This reduction in numbers has allowed us to provide better care to those migrants who do still come, without overwhelming our facilities.” 

During a question-and-answer session, Minister Mouynes detailed Panama’s plans for further engagement with the Caribbean community, including a ministerial meeting with CARICOM countries in April. She also discussed civil society’s role in addressing the migration crisis, expressing gratitude to the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which supported Panama during the crisis while calling for more aid from partners and NGOs. 

Minister Mouynes ended the event with a call to action for her young audience: “it takes a coalition of countries working together to make a real difference on the issues that matter most. Young people like you have an especially important role to play in this regard because you help us see past our differences and hold today’s leaders accountable to future generations.”