Miércoles, 22 de febrero de 2017

| 2009/04/03 00:00

President Uribe insists on opening the Darién Gap

During his recent visit in Panamá, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe insisted on the need to open the Darién Gap, the last swath of undeveloped swampland between Colombia and Panamá. It is the only extent of land not connected by road to the rest of the continent. If it were constructed, the road would cross the continent all the way from Alaska, in the US, to Tierra del Fuego, in Argentina.

The Panamerican highway

According to Uribe, building that road would be a strategy to fight criminals that take advantage of the natural barriers to hide from the authorities. Nevertheless, Panamá disagrees because that government thinks that the gap serves as a natural protection against FARC guerrillas wishing to enter their territory.

The other concern is about nature. Environmentalists have always opposed the construction of the road in the area, claiming that biodiversity will be harmed. In 1974, the concerns of environmentalists stopped the efforts started three years earlier by the United States to build this missing link. Later, in 1994, a United Nations unit said the construction will cause extensive environmental damage.

Another reason against the project is that the Darien Gap has been a natural barrier for the spread of cattle diseases such as the foot and mouth disease. The Embera-Wounaan and Kuna Indians, natives to the region, could also be harmed if the construction were carried on.

Nevertheless, President Uribe was very enthutiastic about the project and said: “it is a good thing this has finally began to take shape, we have been trying to do this for many years”. As he left Panamá, the Colombian president started to organize a bi-national company that will be in charge of building the 614 kilometer electric line that will be needed to energetically link both countries.

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