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Donkey Route : In the shadows of Panama‘s dense jungles, social media platforms are inundated with videos depicting the harrowing journey of migrants from India and Pakistan undertaking what is ominously known as the “jackass course.” Regardless of frantic supplications and realistic film showing the torment and passings of transients en route, the charm of the Pursuit of happiness keeps on pushing people to gamble with everything for an opportunity at a superior life in the US. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the complex “donkey route,” delving into its origins, challenges, and the urgent need for caution.

Latin American Launchpad:
The initial phase of this perilous journey involves reaching Latin American countries such as Ecuador, Bolivia, and Guyana, where Indian citizens can obtain visas on arrival. Orchestrated by agents with connections to human trafficking networks, migrants often find themselves waiting for signals from these elusive links in Mumbai. The choice of entry points in Latin America, including Brazil and Venezuela, is carefully calculated and contingent on the agent’s affiliations and connections.

Traversing the Darién Gap:
At the heart of the “donkey route” lies the daunting task of crossing the Darién Gap, a treacherous forest that spans the border between Colombia and Panama. Migrants face a myriad of risks, from a scarcity of clean water and encounters with wild animals to the looming threat of criminal gangs. The journey through this unforgiving terrain takes between eight to ten days, and if tragedy befalls a migrant, their family is left grappling with the harsh reality of being unable to repatriate the body for proper last rites.

Coordination in Guatemala:
Guatemala emerges as a pivotal coordination centre along this route, where migrants are handed over to new traffickers facilitating their onward journey into Mexico. The subsequent game of cat and mouse with government authorities heightens the risks, as illustrated by the tragic tale of Gurdaspur youth Gurpal Singh, who lost his life in a bus accident in Mexico.

Alternative Routes and Persistent Risks:
While some migrants opt for an alternative route commencing from San Andrés to sidestep the Darién Gap, the risks persist. Boats transport migrants to Nicaragua, from where they progress towards Mexico. The ever-evolving dynamics of these routes underscore the complex web of dangers faced by those desperately seeking a better life.

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Border Crossing and Detention:
The final leg of this treacherous journey involves crossing the expansive 3,140-km US-Mexico border, featuring barriers that migrants must overcome. Many choose to navigate the challenging waters of the Rio Grande river. However, the true challenge emerges after successfully crossing the border. Upon arrival, migrants are detained and confined to camps, with their fate hanging in the balance as US authorities determine their eligibility for asylum.

The Shifting Landscape:
In recent times, a seemingly more accessible route has emerged, where migrants first travel to Europe before proceeding directly to Mexico. However, the ease of this route is contingent on the agents’ contacts and connections. Any increased scrutiny may redirect migrants back to the traditional “donkey route,” underscoring the adaptive nature of these perilous journeys.

The High Cost of Dreams:
Embarking on a “donkey route” journey comes with a substantial price tag, ranging from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 40 lakh, and sometimes escalating to an exorbitant Rs 70 lakh. Agents often promise a smoother journey in exchange for higher payments, placing immense financial strain on the migrant’s family. Failure to make payments could result in life-threatening consequences, highlighting the dark and exploitative side of this desperate pursuit of the American Dream.

A Warning to Potential Travellers:


It is imperative to stress the inherent dangers and life-threatening risks associated with the “donkey route.” While the desire for a better life is understandable, seeking employment and opportunities within one’s home country is strongly advised. The consequences of undertaking such perilous journeys are not only personal but also have a profound impact on families and communities. Choose safety over the illusion of a shortcut to the American Dream, and consider the ramifications of embarking on a journey that could jeopardize your life and the lives of those you love.

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I have accumulated a decade of experience in the merchant navy, where I held various ranks and contributed my skills to the maritime industry. In 2019, I transitioned from my seafaring career and embarked on a new path, delving into the realm of social media platforms. This change allowed me to channel my expertise and dedication into creating a meaningful presence across different social media channels. As I navigated away from the open seas, I found myself navigating through the dynamic and interconnected world of digital media, utilizing my experiences to engage, connect, and communicate effectively with audiences in this digital age.