The XXXIV World Youth Day edition will begin next week and will continue for six consecutive days, and it is estimated that more than 350,000 young people will gather in the Panamanian capital to meet Pope Francis. 12,000 young pilgrims have entered until Monday 14 according to the National Migration Service (SNM).
On Monday, pilgrims from Poland, Venezuela, and Brazil crowded the Tocumen International Airport besides hundreds of people arriving on special flights and landing at the Panama Pacific International Airport. From the three border posts with Costa Rica buses with groups of Mexican and Central American pilgrims also enter.
In turn, young Europeans have marked their arrival on sailboats to the Panamanian Atlantic ports. Among them, a group of 27 young French people arrived on a multi-month trip on Monday.
Ana Lorenza, one of the young French women who completed the journey, told EFE that they sailed from France to Panama on August 31. According to Lorenza, it was a “four-month journey of life, joy, wealth, and many difficulties," but always "learning from a world" totally different "and" without knowing anything about the sea."
The young pilgrim, originally from the North of France, explained that the overall cost invested by the entire group that made the journey to participate in the WYD in the three sailboats was 100,000 euros (about 115,000 dollars). He assured EFE he has many expectations and said that his participation "is another gift in my God's life."
This large number of pilgrims who have entered the country represents a logistical challenge for different institutions. The Panama Metro recognized that they will face an "acid test" and therefore, will open line 2 in advance and with line 1, which operates since 2014, will offer 38 trains.
Line 1 on average transports about 42,000 passengers per hour, and with 26 trains will have two-minute intervals with 26 seconds to collect people and line 2 expects to attend in the days of the WYD another 58,000.
Line 2 will be free during the days of the WYD for all passengers, while line 1 might be free between 12 noon (17:00 GMT) on Saturday, January 26, until 18 local times (23:00 GMT) Sunday.
From January 18 to 21, line 2 will operate on a regular schedule (05:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. local time - 10:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m. GMT) and from January 22 to 25 it will operate from 05:00 a.m. 02:00 the next day - 10:00 to 07:00 GMT). On Saturday, January 26, it will provide service from 05:00 local time (10:00 GMT) until 12 midnight on Sunday, January 27 (05:00 GMT on Monday).
For its part, the Government of Panama presents today the national public health plan that will be carried out during the WYD. The preventive deployment will include all public hospitals in the country, from the Pre-Day, which begins tomorrow, in the dioceses of the interior and the day, which will take place from January 22 to 27 in the Panamanian capital with the presence of Pope Francis.
In terms of security, at least 30,000 Panamanian police agents were unified in a security plan that will shield the capital and the Pope with the Italian Gendarmerie support, announced the Panamanian deputy security minister, Omar Pinzon.
The agents will be involved in "57 action plans," said Pinzon, and said the authorities have "considered all the necessary aspects to ensure rapid action on aspects of security at the national level" within the framework of the WYD.
Pope Francis's visit has generated immense interest not only in this country but throughout Central America, since the only pontiff who has traveled to the region is John Paul II, in 1983 and 1996.