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VOL. 13 #5 -- Feb. 23 - Mar. 8, 2007
Cover Article
Places Section
Map of Panama
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Spanish Version

Our Cover Article


"Congo and Devil Festival":
March 3

A dancing devil in Portobelo.
Photo: Yolande Vicente.

The town of Portobelo, on the Caribbean coast, will host its annual "Devil and Congo Festival" on March 3. Held since 1999, the festival is a tribute to two deeply-rooted cultural traditions of the Costa Arriba region.

"Congo culture" is an African-accented subgenre of Panamanian folklore, in which dancers recreate the mockery of their enslaved ancestors against Spanish colonial rule. Devils –an element introduced by Roman Catholicism-- participate in colorful choreographies along with the Congo queen, king and their "pajaritos" (children).

Congo culture is strong in the entire Costa Arriba (Upper Coast) region of the province of Colón, with Portobelo being the strongest bastion of the tradition.

Located 100 km northeast of Panama City, Portobelo is a sleepy coastal community that was once the center of commerce in the Western Hemisphere during the colonial period. It has a number of old forts and castles which once protected it from the attack of pirates. Its deep harbor is one of Panama's best diving destinations.

More information on the fair in our coming issues.


Music in Old Panama

The Old Panama Visitors' Center will host a series of outdoor concerts featuring some of the best concert bands of the metropolitan area. Performances will take place on February 4, February 25, and March 4 and 18 from 5:30 p.m to 7:00 p.m.
The list of participating bands includes the Moisés Castillo High School Band, the Panama Fire Department Band and the Band of the National Police Department.
The Visitors' Center is adjacent to the ruins of Old Panama –the remnants of the first European settlement of the Pacific coast of the New World. It was sacked by Henry Morgan in 1671. One of Panama's most recognizable landmarks, the ruins were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (along with the city's San Felipe district) in 1997 and has gone through a series of restoration works in recent years. During the dry season (January-April) the site is a popular venue for outdoor concerts, folklore performances and weddings.

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