Ladino and Spanish Jews in Latin America

Nestor Gorojovsky nestorgoro at
Fri Nov 21 02:09:38 MST 2003

El Viernes 21 de Noviembre de 2003 a las 2:10,
David Quarter dijo sobre Re: Ladino and Spanish Jews in Latin America que:

> I'm aware that there were laws prohibiting Jews from settling in
> Spanish and Portugese colonies, but in terms of the Americas in
> general, there are/were a few striving Sephardic Jewish
> communities in the colonies owned by the Dutch. One in particular
> and  the oldest one in the Caribean is found on the island of
> Curacao. The first Jews to settle there had fled the Spanish
> inquistion, and became slave traders and plantation owners.

Yes, this is absolutely correct. In fact, Curação (which is
Portuguese / Ladino for "heart", so much sweeter than our Castilian
"corazón") owes its name to these Jews. As to "There were/are also
smaller Sephardic Jewish communities in other parts of the netherland
Antillles", I was not aware of that but I find this completely
reasonable. The importance of Jews from Portugal (that is, from
Spain) in Holland can hardly be diminished.

I would even suspect that there were Jewish communities in English-
speaking areas of the Antilles, too. Particularly after 1689.

But the heart of the matter is not this. In the Protestant colonies
there might have been many Jews. But Protestant colonies were not the
main source of population and culture for what is now known as Latin
America. Latin American culture is, in a first approach, Iberian and
thus either Portuguese or Castillian (Aragonese, and very
particularly Catalans, were forbidden from Latin America, such as
Jews were). Remember that the issue we were debating was whether a
group of mixed blood people known as Ladino could eventually owe its
name to their being originally (or even currently?) Sepharadi Jews.

Within this general framework, many Jews came to South America, as I
already told on my previous posting, by way of Portugal after the
Inquisition. They also took to the sugar trade, just like their
Curação counterpart, but they soon changed religion. This original
kernel of -basically Portuguese: in Spanish America, "Portuguese" and
"judaizante" were almost synonims- "Sepharadic" Jews left a strong
imprint, many of them crossing over the borders to what today is
Argentina during the late 16th/early 17th Centuries and giving birth
to some of the few oligarchic famlies in this country which remain as
such since those early times (most Argentinean oligarchic families
are quite recent, they date back to the second part or the second
third of the 18th Century).

But this imprint was not a Jewish imprint. They had become Christians
long ago.

Best to all,

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
nestorgoro at

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"Sí, una sola debe ser la patria de los sudamericanos".
Simón Bolívar al gobierno secesionista y disgregador de
Buenos Aires, 1822
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