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Colombian family flees to US to escape corrupt government

A deadly route between Colombia and Panama, the Darien Gap is known as one of the most dangerous migration trails — for some, it is worth the risk.
Columbian family flees to US to escape corrupt government
Posted at 10:41 AM, Sep 27, 2023

Every day, migrants of all walks of life struggle to shake the trauma they have endured.

Henry Pabon, his wife and two children fled Colombia. Now they're in El Paso, Texas. Pabon says he left a career in the police force in which he dedicated six years to waging a war on terrorism and drugs as part of government force.

"We had to pull cocaine plants that were rigged with explosives, and when we pulled the plants the explosion would tear your body into two," said Pabon.

It's calling he says claimed the lives of his colleagues and friends. Three of his colleagues died. 

Pabon says the Colombian government failed to protect officers risking their lives day in and day out. Groups that don't abide by Colombian law attack the police. To protect his family, Pabon says he packed up and left, embarking on a nearly three month journey to the U.S. traveling through the Darien Gap. It's a deadly route between Colombia and Panama — known as one of the most dangerous migration trails.

A river on the route nearly took Pabon's life. Pabon's son Jeisson says after surviving the Darien Gap his body almost gave out at the border wall.

"I almost fainted, my legs trembled, they were tired, I was tired and didn't have any energy to walk. I didn't have any strength," said Jeisson. 

This family says the sacrifice was worth it.

"Yes, people criticize us, they say we are risking the lives of our children, but the reality is we are looking to protect them," said Pabon. 

It's a feeling of safety filled with challenges. Without a dollar to his name, Pabon says he has his family — and his health.

"We have two arms and two legs to work," said Pabon.

Work he says he needs to support his family and to travel to New York. 

Jeisson is already practicing his English. He wants to follow his father's footsteps into law enforcement.

"I'd like to someday be part of the U. S. police force," said Jeisson. 

But for now they're taking it one day at a time — as they navigate a new country.

SEE MORE: Texas cities approach their breaking point due to migrant surge


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