The Festival of Devils and Congos had its genesis at the end of 1999 when a group of Portobeleños, headed by Mr. Raúl Jiménez, worried about the loss of their traditions and ethnic and root values, decided to organize themselves through the group “Realce Histórico de Portobelo", with the main objective of working to maintain, preserve and disseminate its vernacular manifestations.
As main activity in this direction they agreed to carry out an event that would project and revaluate all the wealth of the game of the game-dance-ritual of the Congo. Thus was born the First Festival de Diablos y Congos of Portobelo, celebrated the 19 of March of 2000.
This initiative was supported from the first moment by the photographer and historical cultural promoter of this population, Sandra Eleta, and to this were added a group of artists and cultural managers of the capital city. The Fundación Portobelo is the formal and legal entity that organizes the event, with the collaboration of the Center for Women in Panama (CEMP).
The headquarters of this event is Portobelo, a town located on the Caribbean coast of the province of Colón, populated mostly by descendants of black colonial maroons, ie slaves escaped from Spanish plantations and refugees in the forest to live in freedom and maintain their customs and traditions.
The festival takes place about two weeks after the end of the Carnival, during a whole day, and its central activity is a great meeting between the practitioners of the ritual games of the congos, proposed from that region of the country, and are part of a product culture Of the syncretism of traditions of varied African origin with contributions of the European colonizer.
Overwhelming response: benefits for the people, the province and the country
The progressive public response to the activities of the Festival de Diablos y Congos since its inception has exceeded all expectations, and the multitudinous arrival of thousands of visitors who attended the last editions has made it the most important event of its kind Currently exists in the country.
National tourists from different provinces, colored throughout the region and many international tourists fill the streets of Portobelo early in the morning, visiting the various stalls of the Fair, as well as exhibitions and other offers for family fun.
Obviously, this Festival is not only a relevant cultural event that rescues and divulges a part of our cultural heritage, which highlights the positive aspects of the province of Colón, but has all the potential, as has been demonstrated, to become An event that draws attention to scholars, artists and cultural tourists from inside and outside our borders.
This has evidently had repercussions, and can have much more repercussion on profits, image, and other orders for the community of Portobelo, for the province and for the country in general, because events of ambitious dimensions such as this are called to be the props To achieve the eventual positioning of Panama as an important cultural destination in the regional, continental and world context.