Friday, April 12th, 2013

The Lebanese of Mexico

From the article in the previous post, but this time we will concentrate on his points about Mexico

Arabs Making Their Mark in Latin America: Generations of Immigrants in Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico

By Habeeb Salloum.

I spoke with Michel Jacabo Eljure, whose father emigrated from the district of Qura, located in present-day Lebanon. He is a retired businessman who owned a ranch in the Yucatán. He spoke Arabic well and was familiar with the history of the Arabs in Mérida. According to him, even though the Lebanese were only 1 percent of the city’s 1.5 million population, they controlled 30 percent of the commercial and industrial establishments. As for religion, he explained that the Lebanese were originally evenly divided between Maronite and Orthodox Christians. Today, they are all Roman Catholics with only about 20 families still practicing the Orthodox rites. From time to time, a priest travels from Mexico City to administer to these few families’ needs.

With the tolerance of peoples to others in mind, I asked Michel, “Why is it that in countries like Canada, multicultural societies are encouraged and here in Mexico it’s total assimilation?” He replied, “Our society is montholitic. We want everyone to be Roman Catholic and speak Spanish. In our community only about 20 people still read Arabic.”

He continued, “As for our food, it’s another matter. Even a great number of the non- Lebanese in Mérida cook in their homes our kubbah, grape leaves and other Arabic foods. At least we contributed some of our heritage to Mexico – now our beloved homeland.”

This essay appeared in Al Jadid, Vol. 6, no. 30 (Winter 2000)

I am not saying Mexico’s way is best, but notice the total assimilation of the Arab community. Notice also that these Lebanese are not commercial and industrial elites.