The Origin of the Gauchos


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 Spanish cowboy on the Pampas.

But it appears as if there has been some monkeying with history. The truth is a bit more complicated.

The gauchos are supposedly descended from Spanish frontier stock? History books portray the gaucho 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.

It turns out that the gauchos may not have been as quite as Spanish as we are told.

For the truth we have to go back to South America’s colonial days. The officers in the Spanish colonial empire were quite 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. They would form the ruling classes of Spain.

Among their foot soldiers were lower class Spanish, some drifters, mercenaries, adventurers, and some Moriscos.

SO WHO WERE THE  MORISCOS?

fallofgranada.jpgThe Fall of Granada – 1492 – The Reconquista has won.

Morisco is a Spanish word that means Moorish One. The Moors had ruled in Spain from 711 AD to 1492 AD.

Contrary to current politically correct histories which portray Moorish Andalusia as a heaven on earth, 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 was a reason the Spanish drove the Moors out.

When Grenada fell, and Spain was finally free in 1492, 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.

To this day, the Muslim world considers the loss of Andalusia as the greatest disaster of their history. They still refers to it as the “Tragedy of Andalusia.”

Those Muslim individuals who remained in Spain were called Moriscos: The Moorish Ones.

Though originally guaranteed freedom or religion by the surrender Treaty of Alhambra; 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 Muslims 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. Many of them were actually restored. During Muslim rule, the Muslims had converted churches to mosques, and now the Spanish took them back for the Catholic Church. This lead to churches with an amazing blend of different architectural styles.

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.


Great Clip, but she leaves out that the Moors did rise up more than once, and the Spanish considered them a threat.

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 expelled Jews had done earlier.

They felt they could pass themselves off as equals. White men were rare and needed in the colonies. Arab or Jewish blood might be overlooked, if everything else was in order. And, one did not have to learn a new language. Perhaps they could start life over on an equal footing.

Some did well. Others were still mistreated; and these probably deserted into the interior of Argentina. Others probably just made use of the looser social codes in the New World.

gaucho01.jpgWhat the real old line Gauchos looked like – 1880.

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. Until that time, they were relatively unknown outside of the frontier, but they call themselves gauchos, a word whose origin was unknown. They prove instrumental in destroying Spanish power in South America.

Gauchos were mestizo. part Indian; some even part African. They were Catholic, and often had Indian affectations as well, combining Catholic and Indian Indigenous religious beliefs.

gaucho02.jpgWhite Gaucho – 1868 – the ideal!

After the War of Independence, there were discussions and letters about who should be encouraged to immigrate and settle in Argentina, and the answers that came out of Argentina’s leadership would sound positively shocking to the modern ear.

The Argentine politician Juan Bautiste Alberdi preferred French or English settlers. There was even discussions of excluding general Spanish, Italian, and Jewish immigration.

Excluding Spanish and Italian emigration?! The men who came up with this idiocy were of Spanish and Italian blood themselves.

One has to wonder what these elites were thinking. Clearly some had bought into the myth of Nordic superiority; but the level of self-contempt is amazing.

Racism in Argentina

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. Argentina even got a large influx of Jews. 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 quite white. Argentina is the “whitest” country in South America.

Argentina had gotten good use out of the gauchos during their War of Independenece with Spain, but began to despise the gauchos. They were a hinderance to a nation that sought to whiten itself. Mestizo range rovers on the pampas could hamper goverment plans to have European farmers civilize the interior. The Argentine government did not need half-breed transient nomads.

Violence often broke out between the settler farmers and the range roving gauchos. The Argentine government had enough and wanted to get rid of them.

Sound familiar?! Just as Spain wanted to get rid of the Moriscos, now Argentina wanted to get rid of the gauchos.

So the Argentine goverment hit on an idea. Why not draft the gauchos to fight the local indigenous Indians? Whoever died, Argentina would win. This did not go over well with the gauchos who often had family on both sides of the contest.

The era of the gaucho was fading. The Indians were being reigned in; and the gaucho life would dying out; all by design. Ironically, some of the best writings on the demise of the gauchos were by an Irishman, William Bulfin, who lived among them; and may be responsible for immortalizing the gaucho to the English speaking world.

Just like the demise of the American cowboy. The Argentine Wild West was over.

No doubt, some gauchos were white, but these were not the ones the government of Argentina wanted to get rid of.

guerra_gaucha.pngTHE GAUCHO WAR
The heroes were now whites

By the end of the 19th century, as white immigrants, chiefly from Italy, Spain, and Germany were moving in and adopting the ways of the Argentine culture, an unrealistic romantic view of the gaucho developed. White farmers would now dress like gauchos. These newly minted gauchos were the images which were presented to the world.

The official story became one of sturdy white frontiersman – maybe with a small amount of Indian blood – but not so you could notice – who won the Argentine West. The word gaucho was chalked up to have originated from Mapuche or Quechua Indian words.

All neat and clean! White Civilization had tamed a continent, freed Argentina, and beaten the Spanish European colonial masters.

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.

way_of_a_gaucho.jpgBy the time Hollywood got into the act
The Gaucho was Anglo-Saxon

Syrians and Lebanese started flooding in to Argentine ports. They would be the third or fourth largest wave of immigrants to Argentina. Today they are 9% of the population. Initially, they were despised.

Argentina’s founders had wanted Northern European immigration. They had gotten an noticeable amount German and French immigrants, but not enough to greatly change Argentina’s Spanish culture, which is what the founders had sought to do. Argentina had to settle for chiefly Italians, Galacian Spanish, and Basque immigrants; but no one wanted Arabs. Yet, that is what they got.

Worse, yet, these Arabs started noticing something wrong about Argentina’s official founding symbol: The glorious European Spanish tamer of the continent.

The Arabs pointed out that 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. They told the Argentines that the gauchos must be of Arab origin.

Heresy! Only sturdy white men could tame a continent! Only real red-blooded white men could have driven out the Spanish.

Their ideas were summarily dismissed as the wild braggings of ignorant Arab immigrants.

But these claims would not go away. Yes, the Arabs are given to bragging; but these Arab-Argentines kept bringing up some embarrassingly inconvenient facts.

Then academics started noticing that the old Spanish colonial records spoke of Moriscos in the colonies. The evidence had always been there; but no one ever paid attention to it before – not until the sons of Lebanese and Syrian immigrants started to point it it out.

This new vision of Argentina’s roots did not go down well.

Why Argentina was even 8% German. Alright, not as many German-Argentines as the founders had wanted; but … Argentina was #^$@! white. And, don’t you forget it.

Argentina was a white country for white men. Its national symbol could not possibly be a darkie Morisco.

Or could it?!

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. who were very common in Spanish colonies.

To be sure, the Arab-Argentines may exaggerate the Morisco contribution. To claim everything in the gaucho culture and bloodline was Arabic is nuts. But a lot of gaucho’s baggy clothing, the name gaucho, their nomadic lifestyle, their rugs, and they horsemanship, etc. clearly indicate a very possible Morisco contribution to their origin.

The final answer is not in, but more and more the idea is starting to take hold. No one is laughing at Arab claims any more.

Maybe only DNA will settle the question.