The first study of the profile of the migrant workforce in Panama is presented

Panama City, April 12, 2024 - The Symposium on Labour Migration in Panama was held, which has yielded data and information on the migration of Ngäbe-Buglé workers for the coffee harvest and on the management of work permits for migrants before the Ministry of Labour and Professional Development (MITRADEL). 

The statistical analysis of the 2023-2024 Coffee Harvest period, presented during the symposium, reveals significant findings on the circular labour migration to Costa Rica. Fabián Solano, Information Management Officer at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, and an expert in migration data and statistics, highlighted the importance of understanding the positive impact of these flows on the economies of indigenous communities and host communities. 

Ileen Lezcano, Senior Project Associate for Labour Mobility and Social Inclusion and IOM Labour Migration Specialist in Panama, highlighted the importance of well-managed circular labour migration. According to her statements, "proper management not only benefits migrant workers, but also contributes to the economic and social development of countries, private companies and communities at large, as well as providing opportunities to improve incomes, acquire technical skills and raise the living conditions of Ngäbe-Buglé families and communities." 

"From MITRADEL we have accompanied all the work permit processes for migrants, both those who arrive to stay in Panama, and Panamanians who go to work abroad, since the registration allows greater territorial control, compliance with labour standards and human well-being, as a priority of work," said Alfredo Mitre, Director of Employment.  

The Ministry of Labour and Professional Development has promoted the regulation of standards that make it possible to have social and labour data on workers, to respond to the needs of the productive market, of companies that require personnel, and of the training required by workers in general. 

"IOM has been working closely with MITRADEL to strengthen labour migration in Panama. Their technical cooperation has been instrumental in improving permit management processes and ensuring a safer, more orderly, regular, and beneficial migration for all parties involved," Mitre added. 

A highlight of the symposium was the presentation of results on work permits since the implementation of Executive Decree No. 6 of April 13, 2023. This data provides evidence and a clear view of the types of permits obtained and their impact on labour migration in Panama. 

The Symposium on Labour Migration in Panama served as a fundamental meeting point to discuss and better understand the challenges and opportunities facing the country in this crucial area. The findings presented will serve as a basis for future policies and actions aimed at improving the management of labour migration and ensuring sustainable development for all communities involved. 

For more information, contact IOM Panama's communications team at

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth