Panama, April 16. About 300 “devils”, one of the oldest representations of Panama which dramatizes the “good” and “evil” of the Catholic religion, circled the colonial Casco Antiguo in the Panamanian capital this Sunday, dancing to the rhythm of the bells and drums.

Dressed in the colorful costume and its terrifying mask, the hundreds of demons danced through the main streets of Panama City’s Casco Viejo, declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ( Unesco) in 1997, while “frightening” those present, as part of the II Devils Festival.

“They (the demons) are a way our folklore has diversified,” Alexander Alarcón, one of the festival’s organizers, told EFE.

Alarcón explained that there are different types of demons depending on the region of Panama and “each one has a different dance, music and reason for being, but everything was based on the evangelization of the culture”.

This Sunday, four types of demons danced: Diablo Congo or tun tun, Diablo Espejo, both from Colón (Caribbean and a region with a large population of African descent), Diablico Sucio from Villa de Los Santos (in the west of Panama and popularly associated with a great Spanish culture) and the Gran Diablo de la Chorrera (province contiguous to the Panamanian capital).

“I represent the Spanish oppressor, who repressed slaves in his time,” Adrián Escobar, 28, one of the dancers who symbolizes the devil tun tun, told EFE as he prepared before the start of the festival, organized by the Ministry of Culture. .

Escobar, with a long family tradition in popular dances, explained that the dance “goes according to the music of the Congos (one of the most popular dances of the customs of Afro-descendants of the Panamanian Caribbean), which is special, it is only of the devil tun tun”.


Devils are one of Panama’s most archaic traditions dating back to colonial times when the Spaniards evangelized the natives “dramatizing” through dances with costumes of large masks decorated with feathers and sharp teeth, which were “good and bad”, according to Alarcón.

“The first (dance) was the dirty devil, which was made of white cloth painted with achiote (a common plant in Panama from which a natural red dye is extracted) and charcoal,” Alarcón added in the Plaza. Catedral of the old town, a place which It was the epicenter of the festival.

After “the arrival of the blacks, the tun tun dance or congo devil dance appeared, which is in the majority on these dates because its manifestation took place at Easter, so at the end of the week it is more linked to Corpus Christi, it was also declared by Unesco as Intangible Heritage of Humanity,” he added.

Diablos are a Panamanian cultural custom that is celebrated before and during Corpus Christi. They are also common in other Latin American countries, such as Venezuela.

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