A bit exaggerated, but there is a germ of truth to it.
From the Arab-Argentine show: Desde el Aljibe (From the Well).
I edited it from the original You Tube source.
Source: ElAljibedetodos, a viewer who assembled hundreds of these videos on his YouTube channel.
There is nothing more Argentine than the Gaucho. It is their national figure. The image it strikes is of a white Spanish Cowboy on the Pampas of Argentina.
But it appears as if there has been some monkeying with history. The truth is a bit more complicated.
First, the Gaucho, and the Pampas, are not confined to Argentina, but are also found in Uruguay and Southern Brazil. There is a variant in Chile called the Huaso. What all of these have in common is descent from original frontier Spanish stock.
Uruguay and Southern Brazil were once part of the Viceroyalty of the Plate River – what would become Argentina. So it should not surprise us that Spanish frontier stock is found throughout all these areas, even after new borders were drawn. During Colonial wars, Brazil took some territory from Spain (Rio Grande do Sol Province). Uruguay separated from Argentina during the Wars of Independence. All these were once Spanish territory, and where we find gauchos; though yes, most guachos are Argentine.
But what about this Spanish frontier stock? It turns out that it may not have been as purely Spanish as we are told. History books portray him as a Spaniard, maybe with some Indian mixed in, and that is the official story – the one which the Argentine government wanted the world to know – but it is not the whole truth.
For the truth we have to go back to Spanish colonial days. The officers in the Spanish Colonial Empire were white, often of aristocratic or Basque stock. You would be surprised, but some of them actually looked Nordic. Hernán Cortés, the conqueror of Mexico, had a red beard. A lot of Spain’s nobility were descended from Visigoth Germanic invaders who took over Spain in the 5th century.
Among their foot soldiers were lower class Spanish – and non-Nordic – some drifters, mercenaries, adventurers, and some Moriscos.
So who where the Moriscos?
Morisco is a Spanish word that means Moorish One. The Moors had ruled in Spain from 711 AD to 1492 AD.
Contrary to current political correctness, the Moors were tyrannical and murderous. Christians who did not pay dhimmi taxes were executed. Spanish women were taken for Muslim Harems. It was not the halcyon paradise that present apologists make it out to be.
There is a reason the Spanish drove them out.
When Grenada fell, a treaty was signed giving freedom of religion to those Muslims who remained behind; but other than that, Catholic Spain had won and was totally triumphant.
The Muslims left behind were called Moriscos: The Moorish Ones.
They were originally guaranteed freedom or religion by the surrender Treaty of Alhambra; but the Catholic church tried to force conversions. A rebellion broke out in 1499 which was put down and in 1501 the Moriscos were told to convert or leave Spain.
Much of the elite classes of Muslims left for North Africa, the poorer classes stayed behind and converted – or did they?
There were always cells of those who practiced their religion in secret. Slowly, the Catholic Church took over. Mosques were destroyed or converted to Churches. Moriscos would be checked to see if they drank wine or ate pork like good Christians did.
In 1567, the Moriscos were required to adopt Spanish names, stop speaking Arabic, and have their children educated by priests. A major rebellion broke out: The War of the Alpujarras. At first the Spanish went easy on the rebels; but as mercenaries came in from North Africa, the Spanish got ruthless and utterly crushed them. The Moriscos from Alpujarras were dispersed throughout Spain in the hopes of assimilating them.
Instead, the recalcitrant Alpujarra Moriscos ended up stirring up the more assimilated Moriscos in the rest of Spain. Overall, the adherence of many Moriscos to Islam was quite real. Crypto-Muslims were quite common.
Spain was fighting the Turks in the Mediterranean, and Protestants in Northern Europe. These Moriscos were seen as a real threat. Worse yet, they had considerably higher birth rates. They were a demographic menace.
By 1609, Spain had enough. The Moriscos were almost totally expelled. Foreign fleets were hired to come in and dump them in North Africa. By this time, many were sincere Catholics who did not speak Arabic; but there was a perceived racial aspect to this, and they were expelled whether they were Catholic or not. They were not trusted.
SO NOW YOU KNOW WHAT A MORISCO IS.
How does this affect Argentina and the gauchos?
Well, many of the colonial records speak of Moriscos in the colonies.
The Moriscos were not stupid. Facing severe discrimination in Spain, many of them fled to the colonies for a better life; just as the Jews did.
They felt they could pass themselves off as equals. White men were rare and needed in the colonies. Perhaps they could start life over on an equal footing.
Well, it turns out that some were mistreated; and these probably deserted into the interior of Argentina. Others probably just made use of the looser social codes in the New World.
Fast speed to 1800, and we see mestizo units in the Argentine War of Independence routing the Spanish Armies. They are wearing clothes that look like wardrobes from the Mideast. Baggy pants. Baggy clothes. They are called gauchos, a word whose origin was unknown. They prove instrumental in destroying Spanish power in South America.
By now, many of them are mestizo. Part Indian. Some even part African. They are Catholic, and often have Indian affectations as well.
Argentina got good use out of the gauchos, but began to despise them. They were a hinderance to a nation that sought to whiten itself.
Mestizo range rovers on the pampas would hamper goverment plans to have European farmers civilize the interior.
The government of Argentina wanted white settlers. The Argentine politician Juan Bautiste Alberdi preferred French or English settlers. There was even discussions of excluding general Spanish, Italian, and Jewish immigration.
One has to wonder what these elites, who were often of Spanish and Italian stock themselves, were thinking. Clearly some had bought into the myth of Nordic superiority; but the level of self-hate is amazing.
it is necessary to encourage Anglo-Saxon immigration. Anglo-Saxons represent steam, commerce, and liberty, and it will not be possible to instill these things in ourselves without the active cooperation of this progressive and civilized race.
- Juan Bautista Alberdi an Argentine Politician who wanted to make French the official language of Argentina
European immigration became a flood after 1870. And while some Germans and French came, most of the immigrants were Italians and Northern Spanish; the very stock Alberdi did not want. Some Austrians, a few Poles, and a few Scandanavians came, as well as a few Irish and British. Not as Nordic as Argentina wanted, but still white.
Violence often broke out between the settler farmers and the range roving gauchos. The Argentina government had enough and wanted to get rid of them.
So the Argentine goverment hit on an idea. Why not use the gauchos to fight the Indians? Whoever died, Argentina would win. The era of the gaucho was dying. The Indians were being reigned in; and the gaucho was dying out, by design.
No doubt, some gauchos were white, but these were not the ones the government of Argentina wanted to get rid of.
The heroes were now whites
By the end of the 19th century, white immigrants, chiefly from Italy, Spain, and Germany were moving in and adopting the ways of the Argentine culture. One of these was a romantic view of the gaucho which never really existed. Farmers would now dress like gauchos. Many were white settlers, and these new gauchos were the images which were presented to the world.
So this was the official story. The mestizo gaucho units who had won Argentina’s Independence were soon to be portrayed by whites when it came to the movies.
As the gaucho culture was dying put, at the government’s behest, it became romanticized. The offical story became one of sturdy white frontiersman – maybe with some Indian blood – who won the Argentine West. The word gaucho was chalked up to have originated from Mapuche or Quechua Indian words.
SO NOW YOU KNOW THE OFFICIAL STORY.
Only something happened which no one anticipated.
Just as European immigration took off, much to Argentina’s delight, Arabs also started immigrating to Argentina, much to Argentina’s displeasure. This soon became a flood.
The Gaucho was Anglo-Saxon
Syrians and Lebanese started flooding in. They would be the third or fourth largest wave of immigrants to Argentina. Today they are 9% of the population.
These Arabs started noticing something. Gauchos dressed like Arabs. Gauchos and Arabs both wore loose flowing pants and shirts. They noticed that the word gaucho resembled the Arabic word for cattle driver.
Their ideas were dismissed as the wild braggings of Arab immigrants. Besides only sturdy white men could tame a wild continent.
But these claims would not go away. Yes, the Arabs are given to bragging; but this time they had some credible evidence. Then academics started noticing that Spanish records spoke of Moriscos in the colonies. The evidence was always there; but no one paid attention to it before.
Argentina had always prided itself on being a European outpost on a Mestizo continent. With so much European immigration, at one point it came close to being true. Maybe not North European like the USA, but still European; and Argentina had its fair share of Germans. This new vision of Argentina’s roots did not go down well.
Today, no one dismisses the idea as so crazy. There are too many coincidences. It is clear that gauchos have other influences. Many guachos wear berets and a kerchief, a tradition which comes from the Basques of Spain and France. Basques were also common in Spanish colonies.
To be sure, the Arabs now exaggerate the influence. To say everything in the gaucho culture was Arabic is nuts. But a lot of their baggy clothing, the name gaucho, their nomadic lifestyle, their rugs, etc. clearly indicate a very possible Morisco origin.
The final answer is not in, but more and more the idea is starting to take hold. Maybe only DNA will settle it.