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Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Dabke in Salta Argentina

Salta, Argentina is a resort town on the Argentine side of the Andes. It is in the subtropical Northwest of the country, and is famous for nearby cactus, which resemble our Arizona Saguaro.

What it is also famous for is a noticeable Arab community.

For an idea of what Salta is like in total:

The area around Salta is subtropical, arid and dry and resembles the climate of the Mideast the Arabs had left. So many Arab immigrants settled in the area.

Wikipedia: Salta

However, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the arrival of Italian, Spanish and Arab immigrants, particularly Syrians and Lebanese, revived trade and agriculture all over the area while further enhancing the city’s multicultural flavor.

Notice however that much of this immigration is over a hundred years ago. We are looking at 3rd and 4th generation Argentine-born citizens. They may be monolingually Spanish now, but they kept the culture.

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Belly Dancing at Provincial Legislature

In Córdoba province Argentina, famous for its wine, and German Oktoberfest, there was an Arab Dance show in the provincial legislature.

I do not think it gets any more mainstream than this.

The like does not show up on videos for American state legislatures. That may be part of the problem.

Saturday, August 4th, 2012


Argentina has somewhere between 3 and 4 million Arabs; most being either Syrian Orthodox or Lebanese, often Maronite Catholics.  While Palestinians are found among them, they do not have the same clout that Palestinians have in Chile, where the Palestinians are the majority of the Arab community.

The Syrio-Lebanese seem to be more interested in blending in to Argentine society that the Arabs are in other countries.

Their society website: FEARAB-Argentina (Federation of Arab Societies in Argentina) is now taken down, but while it was up online, it was rather muted and apolitical. They still maintain a Facebook Page.

Former FEARAB-Argentina Website banner (Federation of Arab Societies in Argentina) circa 2012
(Click Here) for archive of website

One of the pictures on the header is of a gaucho1 against images of Syria and Lebanon, which was more a message of an assimilating Arab ethnic group which wanted to be Argentine. The Arab-Argentines do not seem to be as strongly politicized as Chilean Arabs, where the Palestinian-Chilean community presently seems to have a strong anti-Israel view.

The former website for FEARAB-Chile (Federation of Arab Societies in Chile) had a map of Palestine that erased Israel altogether.

The present website for FEARAB-Chile is highly politicized.

Clearly, with Palestinians less of a constituency in Argentina, and Lebanese more strongly represented, a more moderate view seems to operate among Argentine Arabs.

What you are more likely to see in Argentina’s Arabs is more of a concentration on pure cultural programming.  The Palestine issue will come up, but it is not as central to their identity.

This show is more typical:

Dami U Damak (Arabic for Blood to Blood) – 2008 Season – Show #100 Part 1 (Source)
NOTE: Only the opening song is in Arabic, the rest is in Spanish.
From San Luis, in Central Argentina

Notice how the show shows Christian priests, in the opening. Notice how the women seem quite liberated.

This show seems to be a retrospective show (It is their 100th show) and so they went over some past shows, and stories.

Notice at (5:30) the memorial to victims of the Lebanese-Israel war. Notice the Argentine flag in the crowd. These people are integrated.

What should be clear here is that in Argentina the vast majority of Arabs are Christians, and assimilated ones at that. They set the cultural tone. Actually, there was a resevoir of anger at Muslim extremism after the AMIA bombing of 1994. The Arabs in Argentina were quick to distance themselves from it; and since the vast majority are Christian, this was not too hard.

Most Arabs have assimilated exceptionally well into Argentina with a large degree of intermarriage with other ethnic-Argentines.

1There is good reason to believe that part of gaucho apparel hails from Moriscos (Hispanicized Moors – lit: Moorish Ones) who came to South America. That is a story in itself; but there is a debate whether the word gaucho comes from Indian tongues or from a Arab-Moorish word for cow herder. I lean towards the Arab-Moorish view.

History Lesson on the Arab-Argentine show: Desde el Aljibe (From the Well).
I edited it from the original source.
Source: ElAljibedetodos, a viewer who assembled hundreds of these videos on his YouTube channel.

After the re-conquest of Spain by the Catholic forces, the Moors left in Spain were eventually forced to Catholicize. But their assimilation was weak. There were occasional uprisings in defense of Islam, oddly enough, led by some with Spanish names. By 1609, the Spanish had enough and expelled all the Moriscos from Spain, even many who had sincerely converted to Catholicism. The Spanish just did not trust them.

It is believed that many of these Moriscos made it to Argentina, rather than be expelled to North Africa. Expecting equal treatment in the colonies, they were often abused as racially inferior. Many of them deserted into the interior where they mixed with Spanish outcasts, Basque adventurers, Indians, and later black slaves, to produce a new stock … which would become the gauchos. They would eventually totally Catholicize (if they were not Catholic already), losing any connection with their Arab roots, except their wardrobes which smack of an oriental fashion, not a European Spanish one.

The image we have of the gaucho now is white. This was the product of massive white immigration to Argentina in the mid to late 19th century. But when Argentina fought Spain for its independence, in the 1810s, massive white immigration had yet to start. The gauchos were quite mestizo. They played havoc with the Royal Spanish Armies and drove them out of the interior of Argentina, during the Gaucho Wars. They were responsible, to a large part, for Argentina’s Independence since the Spanish Armies were no match for them.

In the end, the gaucho descendents of the Moriscos got their revenge. The Spanish government threw them out of Spain. Their descendents would throw the Spanish goverment out of Argentina.

The Arabs of Argentina take pride in this, though with some degree of exaggeration. Most Arab-Argentines arrived long after the gaucho wars, and during the time of European immigration. Most old line gauchos (from pre-1870 stocks) are probably not aware of any possible Morisco ancestry, and would indentify as Spanish or Basque with possibly a mix of Indian. Newer gauchos, of post 1870 ancestry, would be of European, often Basque or Irish, stock.

The red neck kerchief of the gaucho is clearly European Basque in ancestry. A lot of gauchos wear berets instead of gaucho sombreros. The beret would be Basque in origin.

But, even if exaggerated, the picture of the gaucho shows that Argentine-Arabs identify with Argentina.

Friday, June 29th, 2012


This site is about an attempt for peace; an attempt to demolish all stereotypes and think outside the box.

– If you came to this site to find some bigot who trashes Zionists, then forget it. Go somewhere else.

– If you came to this site to find some bigot who trashes Arabs, then forget it. Go somewhere else.

– If you came to this site to find some politically correct defense of this or that foreign policy, then forget it. Go somewhere else.

– This site is going to examine an aspect of Arab and Latin History than most of the world knows nothing about.

– This site is going to examine the present conditions in Latin America, and the Arab World, to see if peace can be obtained (even if only partially) by taking unique advantage of the history of Latin America vis a vis Arabs.

What happened?

Desde El Aljibe – Argentina Public TV – 2005
Credit/Source: ElAljibedetodos
NOTE: At the ending there are Argentine sponsors, and Argentina’s Channel 7 credits

In the spring of 2011, as I was studying my Spanish, I wandered by accident on to a serious of internet videos and websites which showed an amazing Arab subculture in South America.  I had not expected this at all, let alone the enormity of it.

The more I researched it, the more I was utterly amazed.   Each video lead to 10 more. Each website to 20 more.  Pretty soon, I had discovered a mighty, thriving subculture that few people outside of Latin America knew about.

What I found out?

To my utter amazement I found out:

1) There are more than 20 plus million Arabs in South America and millions more in Central America and Latin America.

2) They are not merely middle class, but many are the elites of their societies.

3) The vast majority are Christian, though they did not all arrive as Christians.

4) They have assimilated exceptionally well.

5) Most are intermarried and/or do not speak Arabic any more.

6) But while their Arabic language was lost, the culture and cuisine, and pride were not.

7) We never hear about this in the USA because our media is biased.

8) Arab culture is a major subculture in Latin America. Unlike in the USA, it is not despised; but regarded highly, especially in light of their communal success.

9) If we realign our thinking, maybe the West can use South America to be a bridge to the Mideast, and maybe Latin America can provide a refuge for some Palestinian refugees who have no where else to go.

Not bad thing for a non-Arab, non-Hispanic American to wander into on the internet.

I wish I were younger.  My middle aged brain struggles with basic Spanish.  Were I in my teens, I would be learning both Spanish and Arabic.

Put aside your prejudices and pre-conceived notions.  South American Arab culture will evaporate everyone of them.

¡Disfrute!   Enjoy!




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