Everything is in place for the celebration of the VIII Devils and Congos Festival on February 16, an event organized by The Portobelo Foundation, Ganexa University of Art and Cultural Heritage Preservation Group of Historic Portobelo.
The activity, supported by the Secretariat of the Black Race and the Panama Tourism Authority, will be the meeting place for groups of Devils and Congos from across the province of Colón.
“Historically, Portobelo has been a meeting place, and that is why at this year's festival we wanted to install the international exhibition "Devils of the Americas", for the sole purpose of giving prominence to this culture. The expectation is that this will eventually turn into a gathering of Latin American Devils,” affirmed Sandra Eleta, president of the Portobelo Foundation.
In its eighth year, the festival will open with an international exhibition titled "Devils of the Americas" in the Royal Customs Office of Portobelo. On display will be diverse masks and colorful costumes, in addition to a photo and video exhibition on devils from different cultures in Latin America, including such countries as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico.
As is tradition, a craft and seafood fair will open early to entice visitors with the essence of local Caribbean food and authentic handicrafts of the region. The main attraction will be the parade of Devils and Congos, which will also kick off the performances by various cultural groups from the province of Colón. The dances are based on the Congo ritual, where the Devil represents the Spanish oppressor and the Congos are the black slaves who use their skills to mock the colonizer's whipping and manage to escape. The afternoon will close with a commemorative ceremony to give recognition to the Devil Mayor of Portobelo, Carlos Chavarría.
“Beyond the organization and enjoyment that can be had in a festival, this aims to position Portobelo in terms of tourism and to strengthen the culture of the Colón province, by training organizations to work as a unit in order to put on a sustainable festival,” assured Jorge Martínez, Director of Marketing and Outreach at the Ganexa University of Art.
Each year, the festival draws thousands of tourists, seduced by the beauty of the masks, the rhythms, the cultural heritage and tourist attractions that are found only in the historic town of Portobelo, a meeting place.