Panama's Emberá Natives: Having a person like the pope defending us is very important

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 Only a 20-minute canoe ride separates this group of people from the rest of the world. This is one of the Emberá communities that have populated the territory of Panama for centuries.  

There are about 80,000 Emberá peoples in different parts of the country. This particular group is made up of 26 families, a total of 84 people who have been living there for 11 years. They decided to embrace their roots to make sure they are not forgotten. 

Emberá Community
“It's the way and style we have decided to live by, we don't do it to put on a show for people. We do it because we've decided to live like this. People want to come and get to know us and we can't turn them away. Instead, our goal is to make more want to come meet about us.”

They have been open to visitors for a while now. Each is welcomed with all the best the Emberá's ancestral culture has to offer. 

In a world where climate change is more and more tangible, the Emberá want to show that another kind of life is possible. It's a life that is is in harmony with nature.

Emberá Community
“Our coexistence with nature is at risk. So, this is our way of transmitting knowledge and respect, not only for indigenous peoples, but also for nature so that future generations can live our same experience with nature.”

For this reason, they also appreciate the speech by Pope Francis in favor of indigenous cultures and how he highlights the important role of these peoples.

Emberá Community
“For us, as indigenous peoples, it is important that a public figure like the pope, endorses and respects indigenous peoples. Also, that he takes into account our rights and our territories. That validation of our right to land and to live in community is what we, as indigenous people, seek.”

The Emberá community is not shying away from the next World Youth Day, which will take place in Panama in just a few weeks. Dozens of pilgrims have already expressed interest in getting to know them and the community.

Emberá Community
“We have around 150 pilgrims who have already told us they are visiting.”

The Emberás, like any other Panamanian, want to take part in the great event that includes a visit from the pope. And although Pope Francis' schedule for the visit is already full, they hope he will make time to acknowledge the reality of one of the oldest communities on the continent.

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