Due to the economic crisis, many Venezuelans are seeking refuge in the economically stable country of Panama. A bus load of 89+ Venezuelans were denied access to the country due to the suspicion that they are working illegally.
Venezuelans, as well as other Latin Americans, will live in the country as perpetual tourists and renew their tourist visa every 6 months at the Costa Rica border. Many cannot afford to apply for residence visas due to the high costs of obligatory lawyers and the Panamanian government’s bureaucracy.
With growing fears of increased violence and unemployment, Panamanians are becoming leery of allowing people to stay in the country on extended tourist visas. The government has also been discussing closing immigration programs like Crisol de Razas due to the recent outrage by Panamanian protesters. The immigration had previously been lax with renewing tourist visas since it was mainly being utilized by rich gringo retirees from Boquete.
The entrance requirements for Panama is simply $500 in cash or in your bank account, a plane ticket going back to your country of citizenship, fingerprints and quite possibly they will want to see hotel reservations. Returning tourists will need to stay out of the country for 3 days, and many opt to sleep in the seedy hotels available within the border.
The Venezuelans had stayed the required 3 days out of the country, but apparently some were missing proof of their bank statements and/or flight tickets. After getting together the required paperwork, they were still denied under the suspicion that they were illegally working in the country. The governor of the province of Chiriquí, Hugo Méndez, announced that he will be working on a solution to accommodate the Venezuelans stuck in border limbo.