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Michael Yon: The Incentives That Caused a Global Migrant Crisis, from Lithuania to the Darién Gap

“They’re dying in that jungle in huge numbers.” Longtime war correspondent Michael Yon has been tracking the migrant crisis from the Darién Gap in Panama to America’s southern border. Record numbers of people from dozens of countries are making the harrowing journey north through the Darién Gap, says Michael Yon, but “almost all of them have no case for asylum.”

On the other side of the globe, the Belarusian regime has weaponized migrants to cause a crisis for Lithuania and the European Union, Yon says.

Michael Yon has been at the frontlines of numerous war zones and major events, including the recent anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong. Now, he’s exploring the many faces of an emerging global migrant crisis.

Jan Jekielek: This is American Thought Leaders and I’m Jan Jekielek. Michael Yon, it’s such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Michael Yon: I love coming on your show. You’ve got one of the greatest shows out there.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, Michael, it’s great to have you on the show again, and you’re actually in Vilnius or as those of us who speak Polish, call it Vilnius. And you’re looking at this very unusual migrant, I think we can call it crisis, across the Lithuanian border from Belarus. And we’re gonna talk about that in a moment.

Before we go there, five weeks ago, you were at the Darien Gap. Let’s talk about the realities there. That situation has actually gotten worse from all the information that we’re getting. So very briefly, for those of the audience that might not know, tell us, where is the Darien Gap and what is its significance for the whole migration realities in North America?

Mr. Yon: Right. I’m heading right back to the Darien Gap. I was there about four or five weeks ago. Darien Gap is at the Darien Isthmus, the Panama Isthmus, that little sliver of land between Panama and Colombia. There’s no roads there for more than 100 kilometers, about 102 or three kilometers—more than 60 miles, right? No roads. And it’s some of the roughest jungle in the world. Really sticky mud. It’s got special mud.

And some serious mountains and very dangerous rivers. Flash floods. It’s a rainforest. A lot of biological problems with the various diseases out there.

A lot of the migrants die from waterborne diseases and many are just washed away in flash floods. At least 10 percent are dying going through [there]. And this month there’ll probably be eight or 10,000 going through, which means 800 or 1,000 will probably die this month in the jungle; and almost nobody knows about these.

Well, I’ve been out there. It’s true. I took two congressmen out there recently with Chuck Holton. We took Tom Tiffany and Burgess Owens out there and they actually went to the jungle. Extremely courageous. Went beyond the edge of everything. The only security was us and the Indians that we were with and went and dug out canoes. And they saw the carnage of the people coming through the Darien Gap.

The Darien Gap is the ultimate wall. If you’re super fit, you’re like Rambo fit, and the weather smiles on you, you can get through in four days, if you don’t get lost, right? Most people take at least seven or more. One guy just took twenty-two. That was abnormally long, and he actually survived. But many people just get lost out there because there’s no… They follow false trails. And they just vanish forever.

For instance, a family asked me yesterday to help them find some other family that was lost in 2016. Of course, the chances of that are very slim. Many of the migrants who are coming up through Mexico actually have to start in South America because they can’t start in Mexico. They can’t get a visa to Mexico.

They start in three major countries in South America. They start in either Suriname; that’s where many of the Cubans and the Haitians go. They go to Suriname because they don’t need a visa. And Suriname is that little tiny country in the north part of South America. It’s an old Dutch colony, so Dutch is one of the languages.

They’ll go there and then from there, they’ll take a bus to either Brazil or Ecuador and they get up to Columbia and cross. So they’ll either go to Suriname, Brazil or Ecuador to begin with because they can get visas on arrival.

So you’ve got people from all over Africa—people from all over Asia. I’ve met many Nepalese. I spent a year in Nepal, so I can talk with them immediately about what’s going on, where they came from. They’re not coming from a war. I see people from Bangladesh all the time. I see people from India, Sikhs and Hindus and others. It’s more than 80 countries. So it’s just a long list, including Afghans.

I haven’t seen any Afghans, personally, myself there, but many people from parts all over Africa— Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Congo; it’s a who’s who down there in the Darien Gap. And again, right now, unprecedented. I’m seeing a report that just came out here that the biggest number of crossings in history was in 2016. That was 25,000. This year, they’re looking at 42,000 as of a few days ago.

And I think it’s actually quite a bit higher because I’ve been down there watching it, but they’re putting the number at 42,000 and this month it’s gonna be the highest month on record.

So those people then feed up through Panama, through Costa Rica, then they go to Nicaragua. Then they get up to Honduras and finally to Guatemala. Then they cross at a place called Tapachula, Mexico. I was just over at Tapachula actually, watching the crossings. That’s where they cross another river. That’s like the Rio Grande of Mexico between there and Guatemala. They’re going over on the inner tubes with poles and that sorts of things, pallets, those sorts of rafts.

Then they’ll stay in Tapachula sometimes for months at a time. And then from there, when they finally get clearance from the Mexican Government, then they head north. Then they go up to a crossover in Texas, or of course, New Mexico, Arizona, or California. And from there, for instance, one Haitian family that we’ve been tracking since I would say March of this year, I think early March. And we met them with Necocli in Columbia.

A 16 year old Haitian girl, her 12 year old brother and their mother had just come up from Chile. They’re Haitians though. And they crossed. so we met them in Columbia, got their phone numbers, and that sort of thing, kept in contact. They made it through Panama alive, made it to Mexico.

We flew up and interviewed them in Mexico in detail actually. And now they’ve just made it to New Jersey about five or six days ago. So that would’ve been early March. Maybe March 3rd or 4th, when we met them on the beach at Necocli, just as they were getting on a boat to go to the Darien Gap. They’ve just made it to New Jersey since early March; but they made it. And so as soon as they make it, of course others are… When they text back, I made it, it just encourages others to come.

That’s why I keep telling people, for instance, here in Lithuania and other places, the walls are effective. They work. The bottom line is you have to have people to defend the wall and then you have to have the political will. You have to have the defense in depth, the wall or some barrier, like the Mediterranean sea, the people guarding the shores or wherever.

And then you have to stop throwing the corn out. If you throw corn, people are coming. Period. And if it takes them six months to make it or two years to make it, the bottom line is, did you make it, right? Even with 10 percent or more dying in the Darien Gap, as long as those incentives are there to come to the United States, they’re going to come. Same thing here in Lithuania.

Now the incentive is mostly to get to Germany. I’ve been interviewing lots of Iraqis and Yazidis, Arab Iraqis, Kurtis Iraqis, Yazidis. Some of them I interview in German; some of them already speak German. For instance, I interviewed a Yazidi the other day, 23 years old, paid $6,000 to leave Iraq—$6,000 for him, $6,000 for his son who was about two. He was holding a son while we were talking and for his wife.

So $18,000, for a simple flight from Baghdad to Minsk, which is only a few hours, and then took a car and walked over the border to Lithuania. And now they’re stuck in a camp. He was just texting me about an hour ago. But he doesn’t speak English, he speaks German because he used to live in Germany as did many of the other Kurds and Yazidis.

And then when Iraq got peaceful for a while, they went back to Iraq and then ISIS rose up and the Turks started attacking, so now they’re leaving. So we get, I call it HOP, Human Osmotic Pressure, right? You got the push and you got the pull, right? If the pull is strong enough, it doesn’t matter if there’s any push.

Most of the people I see in Darien Gap and Panama and Colombia, I would say arguably 99 percent are there for the pull, right? That’s mostly people coming because they’re just going to America for jobs. They’ve got family there already. They’re going for a better life.

Now here, I see a lot of people coming in and from push. Clearly the Yazidis, they have a case for asylum. Many of the people I see in Darien Gap, almost all of them have no case for asylum. Almost every one of them is there for a pull. They’re just coming for the money.

But a lot of the ones here, if we send them back, well, this is the EU, I don’t—this isn’t America. But if the Europeans send the Yazidis back, there’s a high chance they will be killed. But most of the migrants that I see, that’s not the case. It’s simply economic.

Mr. Jekielek: Let’s jump into the Darien Gap side of things first, before we jump into the Europe side. Now you mentioned an incredibly disturbing number, and I just wanted you to qualify this for me. You said that 10 percent don’t make it. 10 percent going through the Darien Gap die along the way. Explain this to me. How are you getting these numbers?

Mr. Yon: My good friend, Chuck Holton, a very experienced war correspondent, we’ve been down there quite a lot together. In fact, we’re gonna be back in the Darien Gap in about four days from now. He puts the number higher. He puts it at one in seven. Which would be more like 14 percent. How do we get the number? That’s a very good question because we don’t know how many go in and we don’t know how many come out. So how do you get the answer? How do we get that estimate?

We’ve interviewed many, many migrants, just unbelievable numbers.

[News excerpt]

Chuck Holton: So, I met this Somali woman in Tapachula who came through here about six weeks ago. And I said, “Did anybody die?” And she said, “Man, there’s dead people everywhere. I saw all kinds of dead bodies.” She said people fall off of things. They drown. They get washed away. They die of dysentery. Just everything.

And she said there were several people who were still alive, but couldn’t go any further. They couldn’t walk. And so they were just waiting to die out there. One woman was a big heavyset woman that couldn’t make it up the Hill of Death, and so she had been out there, she said for 24 days. People kept feeding her, but she couldn’t go back and she couldn’t go forward. So she said she was just waiting for God to take her.

Mr. Yon: We’ll ask them how many people did you see die? How many got lost? How many? And it clearly looks like about 10 percent. For instance, recently, one group of 40 went in and 20 died. That was abnormally high. Most of them were killed in a flood. Often the floods will sweep away many people at once. There’s flash floods out there and they will build their…They’ll sleep beside the rivers because it’s clear. And then, well, flash floods. That’s pretty severe.

Even the Embera Indians who live out there, those are the ones who take Chuck and me out there. The Embera Indians, even they are running from the flash floods. So a lot of them fall. Actually many of the migrants fall. They have to go over three mountains. In that third mountain, they fall off of that one quite a lot.

You saw a video that I sent to you. That was a little rough. That’s not as rough as a lot of the places. Many of them drown. Many drinking water that’s tainted. Many of the children died.. Many children like even one, two years old. Pregnant women going through many of those die out there. You’ll see many children coming in with no parents because their parents died out there.

Like one Haitian man, I found him in Bajo Chiquito. It’s a small village way out in the jungle; no electricity, no phones. And I ask if these are his girls. And he said, “No, their mother almost died.” She’s in the clinic, in the tent actually, which was near us. And the girls were, they looked pretty scared. They were like three and four years old or so. And he said he took both of the girls and helped the mother as much as he could.

I would say 80 percent of the people that come in have no shoes because the mud pulls their shoes off or their shoes aren’t good to begin with. So they get bloody feet. And often they’re being carried in by some big guy that’s still strong enough to do it. Other people come into Bajo Chiquito village and they die. Many of the migrants by the way, are also murdered out in the Gap. They get murdered by bandits out there. And many are raped.

You’ll hear many, many stories of women being raped, especially Cuban women. And so huge stories about that. I’ve published some of them actually on The Epoch Times. You can see the video of Venezuelans talking about that. We translated it from Spanish, right?

[Interview]

(Man speaking in a foreign language)

There are dead people, there are raped children,

They rape children who are 10,8,9 years old, whoever

They rape, they kidnap. They beat you up, and they take your food, and they take your money.

Interviewer: They were shooting women too?

Yes.

Women too.

How many people? How many gangs?

Women with children. They were one years.

Interviewer: They shot a woman with children?

Yes.

Interviewer: What happened to the children?

Killed.

Killed.

Interviewer: They killed the children? Where was she from? The children and the mother?

Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti.

Interviewer: Did you see this happen? You saw them kill a woman and children?

Yes.

Mr. Yon: So once they get there, once they make it in, they will enter a program called Controlled Flow. The Controlled Flow program between Panama and Costa Rica is a program so that they can control the flow and both countries don’t get overwhelmed.

But actually let’s talk about something else. These migrations that you see, it’s not just a result of HOP, Human Osmotic Pressure. There are facilitators. There’s a whole ecosystem that comes. And unless you go around to these different places. I was just down in Morocco, in Africa, I was just in Greece seeing the same thing. Now in Lithuania, you see the same thing. In Colombia, Mexico, Texas, you see, for instance, the Organization of Immigration and Migration, right? They’ve got a website. So they come in.

For instance, they have tents down in Panama and they come in and they’ve got something going on, but they are part of this, as is the NRC, the Norwegian Refugee Council.

It’s the same retinue of people all over the place. Maybe from a distance, it looks like, “Hey, these people are just doing a huge migration.” But then once you’ve been around enough, you start seeing, “Hey, wait a minute, I just saw those people in Colombia. Those are the same people I saw in Mexico. Here they are again in Morocco.” It’s the same story.

Mr. Jekielek: You said that 99 percent in your experience were economic migrants—basically people who aren’t an immediate threat of their lives where they were coming from. Are they aware how treacherous this trek is? What is it that’s kind of creating this pull, ultimately?

Mr. Yon: Some are aware and some are not, and that’s clear. Actually, another journalist I’ve forgotten her name, but she wrote an article about the Darien Gap. And she posed this very question in her article. Why do they keep coming when they know so many die, right? And so her answer out loud in her article was that, which is actually something that I believed as well. Is that the people that go first don’t tell them how bad it is. They just tell them to be strong, make it through.

Now, the only reason I came to that idea is because first of all, I ask people out there all the time, “Did you know how hard it was?” And most of the people say, almost everybody says, “I knew it would be hard, or I heard it would be hard.” Or actually others will say, “No, I didn’t know it was gonna be this hard,” but none of them go, “Yeah, I expected it to be like that.”

But when I was in Nepal, for instance, I spent a year in Nepal out studying the mountains and whatnot. Nepalese are famous for this type of behavior. No matter how hard something is, they’ll just be like, “Oh, you can do it. You can do it.” You know what I mean? Because they’ve got that we can do it spirit. So they don’t really advertise that so many women are getting raped.

The women that are getting. Some of the women know that they’re gonna get raped. They carry those morning after pills and other ways to do abortions out there in the jungle and that sort of thing. But many of the women didn’t actually realize that they were probably gonna get raped when they’re out there in the jungle. But they still go, despite all these things, right? They do it.

And this is one of the reasons I’ve encouraged so many people to go out there with me. I’ve taken two congressmen, as you know, and I took a Japanese journalist, Masako Ganaha, whom, you know. So others that I’ve taken out there, one of the main reasons I’ve taken them was first go back and tell your audience. And secondly, you ask and you’d come to your idea, and how many people you think are dying out here?

It’s a really tremendous number of people. So when I say 10 percent, I guard my reputation, very jealousy. So when I say 10 percent, it’s very defensible. If I take somebody out there, you go out there for a couple of days, you’re gonna come back and say, “Yeah, at least 10 percent.”

Mr. Jekielek: So Michael, the bottom line here though, is I think what you’re saying is that basically people know that if they cross that border into the United States, that they get to stay. That’s the knowledge; that’s the pull. Do I have that right?

Mr. Yon: Absolutely right. It’s the same here in the EU. Now, when I was just down in Morocco, for instance, an Algerian man I spent a couple of days with there, with Chuck Colton in this, he’s like, I can get a free apartment in Germany. I only have to share it with three or four or five guys. I can get X amount of euros per month. Of course, I’m gonna go. He’s like a life in Algeria or a life with a free apartment and free money in Germany, I’ll take Germany, right? He said he’s willing to die to get there.

Mr. Jekielek: I can’t help thinking about this Haitian family that you met in Columbia, and basically now have stayed in touch through the entire migration all the way to New Jersey. I mean, that’s incredible. Just tell me a little bit about their story.

Mr. Yon: Well, I flew down to Columbia from Portland actually, I was up there watching Antifa and flew down to Columbia to check out this migration issue and had some meetings down there. And then finally went to the Darien Gap. I was there with Masako Ganaha, the Japanese journalist and Chuck Colton, war correspondent friend of mine.

Masako said, “Hey, I wanna talk to that girl.” and I said “Go ahead.” So she started talking with Madeisy, that’s her name. And Madeisy couldn’t speak English, but she’s 16, so she’s doing the translation thing really quickly with her, ’cause she loved talking with this Japanese journalist, Masako.

And then Michael, her brother, his name is Michael. He came and we’re all chatting. And her mother came and we got to know him and we were quite worried actually. But I mean, she’s a pretty girl and she’s going through the jungle and that sort of thing, but they made it. They made it through the jungle. They made it to Penn.

We flew ahead. We went a little bit into the jungle, but only for like an hour and met a Sikh guy up there from India and all sorts of things. And then we flew over to Panama; we missed them. We didn’t see them in Panama. They made it through Panama. They told us about their journey because we flew up and met them in Mexico. Finally, they made it from Panama to Costa Rica, to Nicaragua, to Honduras finally, to Guatemala.

The story of their trip is like an Odyssey. Not just the Darien Gap, that’s bad enough. But the whole story of going from Haiti to Suriname to Brazil, to Chile, to Ecuador, to Columbia. At one point, we were talking to Medeisy in Mexico—she’s wired up, so we’re interviewing her and Medeisy chuckled when I asked her something like, “How do you feel about crossing the border illegally?”

And Medeisy said something like, “Well, I wouldn’t cross it illegally if they didn’t make it illegal for me to cross”. And Chuck asked her, “Why are you crossing?” And she said, “Well, because I want to go.” And he asked something like, “Well, how do you think you can make it?” She goes, “Well, I’ve already illegally crossed.” Like, what’d she say, 11 or 12 borders.

You know what I mean? She’s like 007 at this point. I mean, they’re crossing in boats, they’re crossing at nights, they’re hiring coyotes. They’re getting robbed. They’re getting money resupplied, in various ways for instance; Western Union, family in New Jersey and Florida sending them money. Finally, they just made it to Texas. Immediately took a flight and she messaged she’s about to get on an airplane to go to New Jersey. And now she’s in New Jersey. She messaged me earlier today. She says, “It’s very beautiful in New Jersey.”

Every time I ask her about the dangers or whatever, she’s like, “With God’s will, I will make it.” She’s like an Olympic athlete or something with her spirit of just getting through. Now, I was rooting for her and her family to get through, although in general terms, I don’t want to see this happening.

But then once you get out there and you see some of these people, you’re like, these are humans. They’ve got hearts and minds and fears and desires like everybody else, they want to just live a life, but they’re dying in that jungle in huge numbers. Let’s see, 42,000, according to this report I’m looking at here, have made it through this year so far. So if it’s 10 percent, that’s more than 4,000 dead in that jungle. It’s unbelievable,

Mr. Jekielek: Incredible stories. Thanks for sharing them. Perhaps we’ll catch up with this family at some point.

But let’s jump to the situation in Europe. This is really unexpected. I mean, basically over the last two months, there’s been a huge surge of migration through the Lithuanian border into the EU. That’s certainly not something I would necessarily expect. And I think the numbers went from something like 70 a year or something like that, going through illicitly to something like 3,000 last month. I think those are the numbers that I saw. And you’ve described this as a kind of weaponization of migrants. So tell me what’s going on here.

Mr. Yon: Weaponization of migrants. That’s exactly what it is. And so, for instance, when I left the Darien Gap, I flew straight over to Greece and watched the weaponization of migrants there. As you know, Erdogan from Turkey is doing the same to the EU there. He’s pushing migrants through from all over the world, right? Many Iraqis are going through there.

From Greece, I flew down to Morocco, same thing. Morocco has a spat with Spain about the Polisario Secessionist Movement down in Western Africa—sub-Sahara Africa. And they had a spat recently about somebody that Morocco characterizes as a terrorist who had flown to Spain. And Morocco told Spain, “Give him to Morocco.” And Spain said, “No, we’re not gonna give him to you.” So Morocco said, “Here have 9,000 migrants.” Because Ceuta Spain and Melilla Spain are two cities that are in Africa.

There’s those two EU cities that are in Africa, and their whole border is Morocco, right? So Ceuta has a big wall there. So we just flew down there and interviewed quite a lot of people; police, migrants and whatnot. And so they just went around the wall swimming; some went over the wall. They just overwhelmed it. People within Ceuta were very afraid. You can see some videos of them coming in.

And just about two weeks ago, Morocco did another weaponization similarly to Melilla. I don’t want to talk bad about Morocco, they’re a long time ally of the United States. They were the first one to recognize us in 1777. We’ve never gone to war with Morocco, we’re like buddies. But let’s face it. We’ve been together through thick and thin, but they are weaponizing migrants against Spain.

And so now let’s shift. When we were in Morocco, Chuck called up Frontex and Chuck Holton war correspondent friend of mine, called up Frontex. We talked to them in Warsaw. So Frontex told us that Belarus is now weaponizing migrants and pushing them into Lithuania. And I said, “You gotta be kidding.” Chuck and I are looking at each other, what’s going on with this?

It has to do with, remember the aircraft that was forced down with a fake bomb threat and a bomb scare on the aircraft. It was a commercial airliner in a MIG, Belarus scrambled a MIG, landed the aircraft and took off. I believe two people may have been journalists. I don’t remember the details.

The EU said, “What are you doing? You can’t do that.” Not, not only that, you’ve been elected in a rigged election. You’re a dictator, right? They call Lukashenko the last dictator in Europe. Last man standing at this time, anyway. So Lukashenko said, “Oh, you don’t like that. Here, have some migrants again. And I’m gonna send drugs and radioactive material into the EU.” That’s what he threatened publicly, right? So now he’s making good.

I don’t know about the radioactive material, but he’s certainly doing it with the migrants. So he started to ramp it up. We flew up immediately. The first migrants were just getting in. We landed in. Luckily, I had been with the Lithuanian army out in Afghanistan, so I had instant access here through really interesting guys in the top levels of government, with whom I meet with almost every day. They let me go everywhere I want actually.

So I’m seeing, Cause I’m of value to them because I see all these different patterns on migration weaponization, right? And this is the first time it’s happened to Lithuania. They’ve never seen a neighbor start pumping migrants in. So the ecosystem is coming. The Organization of Immigration and Migration (OIM) has already gotten involved. They’re already putting up advertisements on Facebook. They’ve already made a video. We’ve already got NRC, that Norwegian Refugee Council also parachuting in. In fact, OIM already has an office here in Vilnius. It’s not far from where I’m sitting right now.

So there’s a whole ecosystem that comes with it. Now what’ll happen, I’ve told some of the top officials here what’s gonna come next, ’cause I’ve seen this so many times. Next will be many pregnant women and there’ll be cameras. And they’ll say, oh, they need help. And then more and more pregnant women will come. That sort of thing. Even through the Darien Gap, huge numbers of pregnant women are coming and dying out there. Kids like one year old are coming through, right? That sort of thing.

So already I’ve seen some of these camps have children, and of course the cameras go straight to the children, which then opens the border up more. So the weaponization right now, as of about 48 hours ago, the Lithuanian government. And in fact, I know the man who made the decision. He took me out to some camps the other day. He started doing a push back policy, which for the United States is Title 42, right? They take you and push you right back to Mexico, right?

So they’ve started to do that here. They call it the Pushback Policy and they just started. And I told him, I said, “I think what the next move will be, because this is typically what it is. Lukashenko is gonna respond. Because he’s a dictator, he can make very quick decisions. He’s way inside of our OODA loop. What he’ll do is probably start with camps and build the migrants up and then just overwhelm you, right? Because no amount of soldiers can stop 10 or 20,000 migrants coming through suddenly in one night, right? “

And actually I was told that it looks like they might be building some camps there at this point. But to date, the migrants that are coming into Minsk, the capital of Belarus, they’re staying in hotels and that sort of thing. Now it started off with three flights per week from Iraq. They would fly from Iraq and others were flying from Africa to Turkey and then Minsk. But the ones from Iraq, three flights a week, were flying from Baghdad to Minsk, right?

Now they immediately, about 10 days ago or two weeks ago, they jumped that up to six flights. And then as of about 24 hours ago, they’ve increased it even more. And I don’t know the number yet. But they’ve increased it from one city, Baghdad, coming from Iraq, to four. One of those is Bosra in the south, the other is Baghdad and the other is Erbil, and I’m not sure what the fourth one is.

I was told by a government official here in Lithuania yesterday, that the EU is threatening the airline carriers that will ferry the migrants from Baghdad or from Iraq to Minsk, they’re gonna start not letting them fly into the EU. I don’t know about the details of that.

But then you’ve got the other side. Many Africans are coming. For instance, Nigerians, I speak with. Just like the Nigerians I see over the Darien Gap. And some of them speak English. And interestingly, I’ve noticed whether it’s over in Darien Gap or over here, the Arabs and the Africans will start to fight. Some fish don’t mix well in the same aquarium. They’ll start fighting in the camps.

I cautioned some of the Lithuanian authorities about that and they said, actually, it’s already started. And they’re already getting pushback from local villagers here in Lithuania that don’t want the camps near their villages. People are afraid of the migrants.

This is how the weaponization of migration is very effective. It will cause social unrest within Lithuania. And one thing that I’ve cautioned them very clearly, but they get it. Keep in mind, these are Lithuanians. They lived under communism and then Naziism, and then communism, again. They’re like Polish and you know Polish, well, Jan. They’ve still got the edge, right?

They realize how serious this can get very quickly. I mean, they can go from these beautiful streets of Vilnius where I would recommend anybody come to visit. I mean, this place is as safe as Hong Kong used to be until what happened. And it’s, I would say, about as safe as Japan. It’s a very safe place, right? Very nice.

But one or two months from now, you could have migrants from all over the world here of unknown origin or criminal background or whatever, just everywhere, ’cause that’s what we see in other countries when they get overwhelmed. So that’s what they’re facing now. And speaking of Hong Kong, I met, as soon as I got off the airplane from Morocco, the first meeting that I had was with Dr. Mantas Adomenas. I’ve got his name right here.

He strangely, spontaneously during our first meeting, he said, “Lithuania, will welcome Hong Kongers in”. Maybe he did his homework on me and knows how positive I am towards Hong Kongers. I want to take 100,000 to America right now. And he’s like, I said, “Let’s repeat that.” ‘Cause I said I can get this out to a large Hong Konger audience. So let’s get this right.

So are you saying that if Hong Kongers can make it to a Lithuanian, embassy or consulate, you’re gonna fast track them and get them to Lithuania? And he said yes. Despite that, they’ve got this other thing going on right now. They’re very positive towards helping Hong Kongers. Now I’ve talked with some Hong-

Mr. Jekielek: Well, no, I was just gonna say, this is the vice minister of foreign affairs. I think you forgot to mention that aspect. So he’s basically speaking for the entire country here, right?

Mr. Yon: That’s right. It’s the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs. I should have mentioned that little part. And it helps that I went with their army over in Afghanistan. That’s why I flew here and just got instant access to people like that right off of the airplane, because I was out with their army for quite a while in Afghanistan. But he was very clear. I’m very positive towards Hong Kongers.

It’s a huge, lost opportunity that we haven’t taken 100,000 already. Not to mention that they’re under the thumb of, you know the deal. You were there on the streets. We were together on the streets in Hong Kong during the fighting.

I mean, they’re under severe danger and we’ve got this wonderful opportunity to take these highly educated, very peaceful, very low crime rate, super family oriented people and we can get them for free already university educated. And it’s just mind boggling that we haven’t done that while we’ve got the Southern border just being overrun.

Mr. Jekielek: Michael, this whole situation. It just strikes me as kind of bizarre. Two months ago, there was basically negligible migration across the Lithuanian border, right? As the story goes, if I’m reading you correctly, Lukeshenko basically decided that he’s gonna facilitate flights from Iraq and other places into Minsk, into Belarus with the idea of pushing those people through the border to destabilize the EU, to destabilize Lithuania in response to the sanctions. Okay. Am I reading this right, first of all? And second of all, it’s hard to fathom this kind of thing, isn’t it?

Mr. Yon: Yeah, he’s basically in a sense gone nuclear with migrants. He’s saying straight up, he’s gonna destabilize Europe with the migrants. He can do it. He can absolutely do it. It takes time for them to ramp up, to get the infrastructure in place, to start pushing huge numbers over. But it’s not difficult at all. And one of the things I’ve cautioned the Lithuanian authorities about and that’s something I see in other places, is the longer this goes on, you’ll end up baking in like a smuggling network.

For instance, down in Panama and Columbia and that whole route all the way up, there’s coyotes and all sorts of people that make money on this. So there’s a whole like tourism, you might say, business. But it’s migrants, right? And they make a lot money. And so now Belarus has already learned that they can make a lot of money on this, right? That’s why…

I mean, so now you change from, “Hey, here I’m poking you for calling me a dictator.” To, “Wait a minute, I’m making millions of dollars per week on this. We need some more of this, right” So that’s where this can go sideways very quickly.

As you know, look at the border of Belarus, which you know very well. You know this area quite well, Poland, right? And now, Poland is a problem here too. Of course, Poland is one of my favorite countries. I lived there for two years. I love it. But Poland is also exposed here.

So when you look at the map here, you’ll see the place that a lot of the migrants are coming over is that triangle there at the Polish-Belarus-Lithuanian border, which I was just at down there at a camp the other day. So that’s where they’re catching a lot of them right there.

But Poland is not allowing the migrants that come through Lithuania, they’re not letting them go through Poland. So Lithuanians have asked me, “What would I do?” And I said, well, this is a difficult situation because asking me as an American, what I would do. If you look at your options here. Your options are, make huge camps that are just gonna continue to grow and cost tremendous amounts of money. And I mean you could end up with a million people here—that’s easy to do, right?

Or, push them through Poland, and then you’re gonna have bad relations with Poland. Poland is gonna keep sending them back. Put them on ships, send to Germany. But from my experience in various places like Darien Gap, as soon as they realize they can make it through and they’re getting to Germany, or they’re getting to where they wanna go, Sweden, it’s really gonna break the dam and you’re gonna get massive numbers, even more numbers.

So the EU at this point is standing up. They are saying, “You’re not gonna be able to come, but they’re going to be faced with this crisis of, well, what will Lukashenko do next? As you know, he’s got the initiative because he makes the first move on all these things, right? Unless they’ve got serious economic or some other political pressure that they can apply to Lukashenko, he can just keep doing what he wants. And he’s playing like North Korea here is what he’s doing.

Mr. Jekielek: Basically what you’re describing is taking advantage of the humanitarian and I guess Universal Declaration of Human Rights orientation of these democracies, basically to your own ends. And frankly, this isn’t the first time we’re seeing this, of course, but this is the first time I’ve thought about it in this context.

Mr. Yon: Yeah, actually you’re bringing up something that’s really important, and I almost forgot to mention it. It’s very important. In these camps that we’ve been into. I’ve been in about five of them or so, five and a half, let’s say, but I’ve talked to a lot of migrants. And none of them realized they were gonna get detained. They all thought they were gonna go straight, mostly to Germany. And all of them were like, “Why are we stuck here?” And then as the Lithuanian authorities, they were just telling them that for the first time with me, right?

So this was the first time that they were actually telling the migrants and the migrants were like, “Wait a minute, they fooled us.” That’s right. Meaning Lukashenko… Most of them don’t know who Lukashenko is. A lot of them probably didn’t know where Belarus was until they landed there, right? I mean, why would people in Congo or Cameroon or Sierra Leone and the places around. They don’t care where Belarus or know where Minsk is. Next thing you know, they don’t know who Lukashenko is. They don’t know they were just used as a weapon. They just know that they saw that if they go to the airport and they get on this flight, they’re gonna land in this country and they can go to Germany, right?

They didn’t realize, and you’re gonna get caught and put in a camp in Lithuania and Lithuanians are not bad people, but here’s the situation. The migrants don’t know what they’re getting into. They’re being fooled. And just like down in Darien Gap, they don’t realize how dangerous it is. Most of them don’t. They don’t realize that they’re gonna get robbed so many times―some of them do.

So now the question is, they’re quickly trying to build camps. And so yesterday in a meeting that, I was in two big meetings yesterday, they were talking about, should we build one big camp or many small ones? And in both meetings, they asked my opinion. I said, “Well, based on the things that I’ve seen, I would build numerous small ones. Numerous small camps. Build them where you think you’re gonna capture the people.” Capture them and 10 minutes later, you’re in the camp type of thing. And also keeps the… You don’t want to have a huge riot in a giant camp.

And also you need to be able to keep certain. Some types of fish just don’t mix well in the same aquarium. I’ve seen it before, Arabs and Africans are gonna start fighting each other. Chechens, they always need their special place. They’ve already sectioned off the Chechens.

I was speaking with one of the Chechens the other day. One of them spoke English, actually, the other one spoke German. So I interviewed both of them. ‘Cause my German is still quite good. Interestingly, a lot of the Iraqis, a lot of the Kurds speak German, and a lot of the Yazidis speak German, but they have the language problems now too.

Many people are coming in with languages that are like them. We didn’t even know what language that is, right? But many of them luckily do speak French or English, some speak German, a lot of them speak Russian actually from different parts of the world. But so they’re having to deal with all the same problems that you have to deal with, with big migration issues, with people that are probably gonna come from.

Well in Darien Gap, it’s at least 80 countries, at least 80 countries there. And so they’re probably gonna have about the same situation here.

Mr. Jekielek: Let’s jump back here. Just about to head back to the Darien Gap. I want you to tell me what you’re planning to do there. But even more importantly, based on everything you’ve seen, what are the solutions to this unquestionable crisis?

Mr. Yon: Darian Gap. This time I’m going back strictly for humanitarian reasons. I’m getting sucked into it. You’re not supposed to do this as a writer, but there are a lot of kids out there and they’re dying. So I went up to Panama City and I’m like, look, there’s a lot of children out here that are really a terrible situation. And anyway, long story short, the government’s getting more and more involved.

So we’re going down there in a few days with somebody that’s got deep pockets and Panamanian government officials. And with any luck, there’s a hotel down there that they can buy to put some of those kids in. I mean, these children are coming out of the jungle; they don’t need to be living in tents. They need to have showers and that sort of thing.

So basically after that, I’m going back to the United States because I’m very worried about the United States. I’m basically out here on global recon, checking out the perimeter is basically what I’m doing here now. But as you can see in Texas where I was at recently, it’s just being overrun because remember you need those three levels; at least three levels here. You need some barrier, physical barrier can be a river, wall, whatever. You need forces to enforce that. And then you need the political will to stop it.

But we don’t. On that HOP, Human Osmotic Pressure, the pull is severe in the United States. Under this administration, they’re just come one, come all. It’s gonna be catastrophic. And that’s the same thing that they’re facing here in the EU. Of course they did this in 2015 with already catastrophic results. Many people in the United States aren’t seeing. But if you come over here, it’s crystal clear.

The Lithuanians are very afraid that this is gonna happen to their little country. 2.8 million people here about the size of Chicago, well, not geographically, it’s bigger than Chicago, geographically, but population wise. And a lot of them are farmers and that sort of thing. And by the way, they’re like Polish. They have a lot of internal strength. Their heroes are the Forest Brothers, right? That was the people that resisted the Soviets. Died in large numbers, resisting the Soviets. I mean, resistance is in their blood here, like with Polish, right? It’s clear that Lithuania is gonna stand up for themselves.

This is gonna be a problem for the EU. The European Union needs to make quick decisions. But a problem that the Lithuanian officials continuously talk about is they’re too slow. We’ve got to make quick decisions here. We don’t have time for everybody to debate on how much money we’re gonna have for camps. We need to figure out, estimate, how many migrants are we gonna have to deal with.

One meeting I was on recently. A bunch of business people. One will supply the food, ’cause now the business side comes in and other guy makes the camps like he’s been making in Africa for the military down there. Others for medical and you know the whole thing. ‘Cause we’re talking about little towns that they’re talking about making here.

How long are they gonna keep them? I mean, if migrants come in, if the Yazidis come in, for instance, from Sinjar, up in Nineveh Province in Iraq, how long can you keep them?

That’s one of the things that Lithuanian authorities have been telling them in front of me. we’ll pay for your ticket right now. If you raise your hand right now, we will write your name down and we will get you out of here, back to your country. We’ll buy the ticket. We know you’re not criminals. We know you got fooled. That these bad people told you the wrong thing. We’re not gonna let you stay here. And we’ll pay you I think 300 euros or something like that. And send you back to your country of origin.

And of course, none of them want to do that. But in reality, it’s the opportunity. Lukashenko has paved the runway. There’s billions of people that will come to Europe if they get the chance, right? And so here’s the way to do it right through Minsk. Drive down the road a few hours, walk across the border, you’re in Lithuania.

Mr. Jekielek: Michael, any final thoughts before we finish up?

Mr. Yon: I think this is gonna be a very serious situation in Europe. It doesn’t look like it’s going to suddenly abate unless Lukashenko in Belarus decides otherwise. Shifting over to Darien Gap in the United States. Obviously this is a massive threat—the weaponization of migration in many different ways. Whether it’s bringing migrants in just because certain groups think that they will vote for them, right?

But the long term effects of this are existential for the United States. I mean, this is like no turning back type moves that Europe has already done. And now Europe already has no go zones and all over the place, people deny that this is true. They’re either lying or they don’t know what they’re talking about because they absolutely exist. And it’s just going to increase.

As huge numbers of people come in, they’re automatically going to get ghettoize. And so the economic threats are severe. Political threats are severe. A lot of people aren’t thinking this through. Unless the name of their game is just to destroy the country that they’re sending them to, or the area, which obviously Belarus is fine with that. Lukashenko is fine with that. But the people that still create the pull factor that allow them… ‘Cause the EU has the power to stop this. They can easily stop it. If they have the political will to do it.

For instance, if you make it in, sooner or later, we’re gonna catch you and we’re gonna ship you back out. Even if you slip through, we’re gonna ship you somewhere. You’re gonna go to an island. Maybe we’ll get the Australians to help us buy an island somewhere. But you’re not going to get into the EU. That can stop the pull pressure.

But obviously the United States is doing exactly the wrong things as well. I, myself, have been to more than 80 countries around the world. I’ve spent more than half of my life outside of the United States. I’ve been all over this planet, right? And so the fact is there are billions of people out there that don’t live as well as others, for whatever reasons. And it’s not like the money just fell from heaven onto the United States or onto Europe but there’s many reasons for this.

And the fact is if we bring large numbers of people from other cultures that aren’t ready for our culture, they’re not going to automatically absorb. They’re not going to just go into the melting pot; that’s not what’s gonna happen.

They’re gonna form what I call interinsular human islands. I see these islands all over the world. Some people would call them ghettos. And they will have their own governments. They’ll have their own ways. And these are the things that enemies can use later and do use to split people apart. They cause people to fight each other.

You see, there was just a fight in France today. The video is going around. It was gypsies fighting Arabs and fighting Africans all in the same fight. You know what I mean?

It’s just the normal thing. They got people from all over the world that are not compatible and they’re bringing them over in numbers so large that suddenly they’re just here. And what do they do? They don’t have a chance. They’re not going to suddenly absorb. They’re going to be a new country within your country, eventually. And maybe it’s not politically correct to say the truth, but this is the absolute truth.

Again, I’ve been all over this world, spent more than half my life rummaging around. And I lived in Europe for six years, five years in the Middle East, all over Asia, just got back from Africa. You can’t pull everybody in. Period. The best way to help people is in their locations. If for instance, whether it’s Honduras or El Salvador or Guatemala, they need to be helped in place. But we just can’t open the doors, which is what we’ve just done. The results are gonna be a tremendous disaster for the next generation.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, Michael Yon, it’s such a pleasure to have you on.

Mr. Yon: I love coming on your show, Jan, thank you very much.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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