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Lebanese Colombians

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lebanese Colombians
Total population
1,200,000 to 3,200,000 approx.[1][2] 1.6% to 6.2% of the Colombian population[3] (2009)
Regions with significant populations
Barranquilla · Cartagena · Bucaramanga · Bogotá · Cali · Maicao · Santa Marta.
Spanish · Arabic · French
Mostly Christian and some Muslims
Related ethnic groups
Lebanese Argentines · Lebanese Brazilians · Lebanese Americans · Lebanese Canadians · Lebanese Australians · Lebanese Spaniards

Lebanese Colombians are Colombians of Lebanese descent. Most of the Lebanese community's forebears immigrated to Colombia from the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for economic, political and religious reasons.[4] When they were first processed in the ports of Colombia, they were classified as Turks because what is modern day Lebanon was a territory of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The first Lebanese moved to Colombia in the late nineteenth century. There was another wave in the early twentieth century. It is estimated that over 10,000 Lebanese immigrated to Colombia from 1900 to 1930.[5]

Many Lebanese settled in the Caribbean region of Colombia, particularly in the cities of Cartagena, Santa Marta, Lorica, Fundación, Aracataca, Ayapel, Calamar, Ciénaga, Cereté, Montería and Barranquilla, near the basin of the Magdalena River. The Lebanese subsequently expanded to other cities and by 1945 there were Lebanese living in Ocaña, Cúcuta, Barrancabermeja, Ibagué, Girardot, Honda, Tunja, Villavicencio, Pereira, Soatá, Neiva, Cali, Buga, Chaparral and Chinácota. The six major hubs of Lebanese population were present in Barranquilla, Cartagena, Bucaramanga, Bogotá and Cali. The number of immigrants entering the country vary from 5,000 to 10,000 in 1945. Some of these immigrants were Christian-Lebanese and others were adept to Islam.[4]

In the 1940s, another wave of Lebanese immigrants came to Colombia, settling in the town of Maicao in northern Colombia. These immigrants were mostly Muslims and were attracted by the thriving commerce of the town which was benefiting from the neighboring Venezuelan oil bonanza and the usual contraband of goods that flowed through the Guajira Peninsula.[6]

Lebanese Colombians in Maicao
Lebanese Colombians in Maicao

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/2
  • ✪ Ottoman Migration
  • ✪ History of the Jews in Colombia


- My name is Akram Khater, I'm a professor of Middle Eastern history and I'm the director of the Khayrallah Center here at North Carolina State University. And on behalf of Jewish Studies at NC State as well as the Khayrallah Center, I would like to welcome you today to our event here. Before I introduce our speaker, and the topic, I would like to take a few moments to tell you that there will be future events as well. On March 17th we will be having, in Withers 140, a talk about the future of the Middle East with Professor Yoav Peled from Tel Aviv University, and he'll be, sorry, Haifa University, and he'll be here at that time. We'll also have a Middle East Film Studies series that will be happening after the spring break, over the course of March. And then in April, we have a talk about Syrian refugees and education in Lebanon by Doctor Maha Shuayb who works with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and that will be in April. All of this information, you can find on our website which is, and it's constantly updated. So today we are absolutely privileged to have with us, Doctor Devi Mays, who's a professor at the University of Michigan, professor of Jewish Studies. Sorry, Judaic Studies, she received her PHD in Jewish History from Indiana University in 2013. And she was an inaugural post-doctoral fellow in Modern Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, was it New York? - Yep (laughs). - Her dissertation, which was awarded the bi-annual dissertation award from the Latin American Jewish Studies Association, forms the basis of the book manuscript she is currently working on, and it's tentatively titled, Forging Ties, Forging Passports, Migration and the Modern Sephardi Diaspora. This work traces itineraries and connections of Sephardic migrants and she'll explain "Sephardic" in her talk for those of you who are not familiar with the term. From the Ottoman empire, and the Ottoman empire is a territory that we know today as Turkey, modern Middle East, and parts of North Africa, and its successor states to and through Mexico. As a lens into the transnational Sephardic familial, commercial and patronage networks that perpetuated the modern Sephardi diaspora, or sort of communities beyond their focal, their homeland. Her research has appeared in Mashriq & Mahjar, Journal of the Middle East Migration Studies, which I'm very happy to say is published by the Khayrallah Center. And the Latin American Jewish Studies Association in Bolton. Please join me in welcoming Doctor Mays. (audience applauding) - Thank you Akram for inviting me and thank all of you for coming here, I will try to project my voice, so if at some point I get quiet and you can't hear me in the back, just make some frantic gesture and I'll try to speak up. Thank you all for coming, and I hope, I'll try to keep this talk as entertaining as possible for all of you, it's really warm in here and I've been awake since four, so I might fall asleep as well, so I'll try to keep you from doing so. OK, so on April 6th, 1931, Mauricio Tello, the Mexican consul to Yokohama, Japan, passed along to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a report written by a man named Mauricio Fresco. Tello described this Mauricio Fresco as a Mexican who lived in Shanghai as a commercial agent of a French company. Fresco had recently become aware of a number of Mexican women who were married to Chinese men, and after waves of anti-Chinese attacks in Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s, were forced out of Mexico and to go to China. These women often found themselves abandoned in China by their husbands, or found that their husbands were actually married to other women at the same time and left these women in a state of legal limbo. Mexican law stipulated that a woman, upon marriage, got the nationality of her husband, so these women who were from Mexico living in China, found themselves without clear legal status. Mauricio Fresco fashioned himself as these women's savior, and was able to successfully petition for these women to be allowed to be repatriated to Mexico with their Chinese-Mexican children. And this has made him kind of notable in studies on the experience of Chinese living in Mexico. Fresco was also able to capitalize on the notoriety of his interventions to launch a meteoric and drama-filled career in the Mexican diplomatic core. By his own accounts and others, he was the perfect Mexican patriot who made a name for himself advocating for those who he considered vulnerable. And thereby, by extension, casting Mexico as a country that protected people in need. By 1932, Fresco was named the Mexican honorary consul to Shanghai, a post that he would occupy for several years. According to his later reports, he was forced to flee Shanghai under the threat of death in 1937 after the publication of an English language book, Shanghai, The Paradise of Adventurers. In a 1937 letter to Mexican president Lazaro Cardenas, Fresco described his book as, quote, "Exposing the machinations and abuses "of imperialist powers," and, quote, "Of the war in Manchuria and Shanghai, "and the indifferent attitude toward it "of certain League of Nation members." According to Fresco, the international press had been, quote, "Excessively favorable, and all of them "say that my book is the best defense of "the rights of extraterritoriality in China." So foreign individuals who were of certain foreign nationalities had special legal rights in China, that Chinese citizens did not have, and so this is what Fresco, in part, was advocating against. Indeed, because his book had such a sympathetic portrayal of the Chinese, it remained in print long after the communist revolution, it was actually one of the few books that remained in print written in English. He, Fresco, further quoted Chinese reviews of the book in his report to Cardenas, and he said that these reports described himself as, quote, "The first white man who has the courage "to defend the Chinese people in this way. "And he had to be a Mexican citizen whose country, "whether in the case of Manchuria, Ethiopia or Spain, "has always been the one to raise its voice." Being a Mexican, Fresco explained, he felt it was his duty to share his book with the Mexican president, Cardenas. And Cardenas wrote back that he looked forward to reading the book with great interest. Yet, Mauricio Fresco's story as an ardent Mexican patriot, both conceals and is undergirded by another trajectory and another network of connections. Yes, Fresco possessed a Mexican birth certificate, though it was registered belatedly in 1926, and this birth certificate attested to his birth in Merida, in the Yucatan Peninsula, on May 13th 1900, to a father named either David or Dario Fresco, and a mother named Rebecca Fresco, both of whom were from Mexico City. And yes, on his many travels between Asia and Mexico, the United States and Europe, his nationality and country of birth were listed as Mexico, his race as Mexican, Latino or Spanish. And yes, his diplomatic files frequently make note of his Mexican birth and his Mexican parentage. And yet, Mauricio Fresco... Excuse me, was actually born in Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman empire, what is today Istanbul. His father was indeed named David Fresco, but his father was the founder and the editor of the most widely read and longest standing Ladino language newspaper, called El Tiempo. And Ladino is Judeo-Spanish, it is the language that the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, who settled in the Ottoman empire, in what is today, Greece, Turkey and the Balkans, continued to speak. So its, in many senses, kind of 15th century Spanish written in Hebrew characters. So, Mauricio Fresco's father was the editor of the longest standing and most prominent Ladino language newspaper. In fact, far from being born in Mexico, Mauricio Fresco first set foot in Mexico in the Caribbean port city of Veracruz only in 1924, when he was 24 years old. And he had arrived on a Dutch ship that ran from Rotterdam in the Netherlands, through France where Fresco embarked, to Veracruz and past through Havana, Cuba on the way. When he petitioned for Mexican nationality in late December of 1929, and this is only a few months before he was living in Shanghai as a Mexican citizen, he did so, he petitioned for Mexican nationality as a Turkish subject, as a Turkish citizen, and as a Jew. So indeed, both Fresco's naturalization petitions and his diplomatic dossier, contain hints of Fresco's Sephardic-Jewish origins. And what I mean here by Sephardic is, the Ladino-speaking Jewish world of the Ottoman empire and its successor states, so the Jews who spoke this Judeo-Spanish language, living in what is today Greece, Turkey and the Balkans for the most part. In what follows, I use Mauricio Fresco as a lens into these transnational Sephardic migrant networks, that connected Sephardic migrants and Mexico to others in the Americas, and across the Atlantic and Pacific. And what I'm interested in here today is how these migrants, like Fresco, manipulated or falsified citizenship in order to facilitate their geographic and economic mobility. To make this argument, I'm drawing on a wide variety of archival sources from Mexico, the United States and Turkey, which range from ship manifests and border crossings, naturalization records, civil and criminal court cases, and diplomatic correspondence, in addition to press sources and printed materials. Both Fresco's naturalization petitions, so when he applied for Mexican nationality in 1929 and his initial post as the honorary consul in Shanghai, relied on Sephardic patronage networks within Mexico that Fresco, even when he lived in Shanghai, could make recourse to. And the linguistics skills, the language skills, that allowed him to successfully pass as a Mexican, and to later navigate Mexican diplomatic positions in Vichy governed Marseille, and in Nazi occupied Paris during World War II, were grounded in his Sephardic origins. And the way in which Fresco drew on both these Sephardic patronage networks and his linguistic heritage to perform a new nationality, was equally a common ploy that numerous other Sephardic migrants adopted. For many of these migrants, I argue, acquiring or performing new and often false citizenships, allowed them to continue patterns of mobility in spite of increasing state regulation of migration, and state attempts, whether in the United States, in Mexico, in Turkey or elsewhere, that sought to include these individuals as Middle Easterners or as Jews. So, what I'm particularly interested in then, is the ways in which this sort of falsification of documents is connected to the way that people acquire social identities. And the way that people, like Fresco, could move into something like the Mexican diplomatic core, which he wouldn't have been able to do, had he not had fake papers. So the way that, in essence, these fake papers allowed him to move into a career path that he might not have had access to. I'm gonna go through and give you some background briefly on what's going on, kind of, in the Ottoman empire and in its successor states, that caused these individuals like Fresco to want to leave, and then I'll return back to the case of Fresco. So, in the final decades of the Ottoman empire which ceased to exist in 1918 with the end of World War I, the Ladino-speaking Ottoman-Jewish community numbered about 250,000 people. And these people were spread throughout a number of large and small cities surrounding the Aegean Sea. And this community was undergoing vast changes, Ottoman authorities had enacted a series of reforms over the 19th and early 20th centuries that had, officially at least, abolished distinctions based on one's religious identity. Further, in 1869, the Ottoman Law of Nationality granted subjecthood to all Ottomans, or all individuals who sought it, who lived in the Ottoman empire. Numerous Sephardic Jews in the Ottoman empire and others, however, often chose to seek out or to retain the protection of other European powers, such as Italy, France, Austria, or increasingly Spain and Portugal. And having foreign protection often gave them certain tax advantages, so they didn't have to pay the same tax as the Ottoman subjects had to. And they also had legal protections, they could try court courses in the consular courts as opposed to in the Ottoman legal system. In practical terms, what this meant was that Sephardic Jews were quite adept at navigating issues of nationality and protection, even before the widespread proliferation of identity documents that came along with World War I. This also meant that the Ladino-speaking Ottoman-Jewish world was represented by a pastiche or a mixture of potential nationalities, or protege statuses, to which various individuals could make recourse. As reform swept through the Ottoman empire, the Ottoman-Jewish community found itself forced to accommodate governmental change, but also challenged by parallel internal politics of modernization. Ottoman-Jewish reformers sought to implement modern forms of education, based particularly on French models, and this only grew in strength with the establishment of a French-Jewish philanthropic organization called the Alliance Israelite Universelle that established tens of schools throughout the Ottoman empire that educated Jewish children in, sort of, a modern and along a French model in the French language. The Ladino press which was led by David Fresco, Mauricio Fresco's father, who was a very hot-headed man, he hated everybody and he wrote these very angry editorials against pretty much everyone, and the other news paper editors and a lot of people. The Ladino press hotly contested issues of language, so what language Ottoman-Jewish should speak, questions of what education should look like for Ottoman Jews, Zionism, and the place that Ottoman-Jewish should occupy in the transforming Ottoman empire. David Fresco was a fervent advocate both of the idea that Ottoman-Jewish should contribute usefully to the Ottoman empire, and an advocate of French language education offered in the schools of the Alliance Israelite Universelle. Mauricio, as David's Fresco's youngest son, likely attended an Alliance school in Constantinople, and his older sisters, rather typically for an Ottoman-Jewish elite family, attended a French Catholic school, not a Jewish school. And this is a picture in the center of Mauricio Fresco as a child with his two sisters holding a kitten, so anybody who likes kittens like that has to be, something sympathetic about him at least. So, Mauricio Fresco's French language background would explain why when he had a language test in 1939 as part of his Mexican diplomatic position, he received a perfect score of four in French. He had a three in English in contrast, and only a two in Spanish. And this Spanish language score of two was the lowest score he got on anything on this test, and it was only matched by a two also in notions of the history of the patria or of the Mexican nation, as well as notions of the geography of the patria. So, he was a little bit lacking in his broader understanding of Mexican history and geography, and the Spanish language. But he was proficient in French and English as well as a number of other languages. And I should make note that this sort of multilingual proficiency, the ability to speak functionally a number of languages, is a feature that we see, not only among Ottoman-Jewish elites, but really among the larger Ottoman-Jewish population. So there's a lot of multilingualism going on here. Languages ranging from English, French and Ladino, so Judeo-Spanish, but also Italian, German, Greek, Bulgarian, and then sometimes Arabic, Hebrew, so many of these people spoke upwards of five or six languages to some degree of proficiency. So already, by the turn of the century, and we're talking here about the turn of, I guess, from 1889 to 1900, a number of Sephardic Jews, like other non-Jewish Ottomans, began to look abroad for greater economic and social mobility. And France and the United States in particular became popular destinations. So two graduates of the Alliance school in Bursa, and it's a Turkish city today just south of the Sea of Marmara, explained in 1905, why they wanted to leave. And they said, "For some time the movement "of expatriation for the countries of the future "have taken on considerable proportions in our city." So this idea that the future lay abroad, and they explained that, "For young men with "a certain level of intelligence," nothing remained in Bursa beyond their future of their parents, and that was a life they looked at with horror. So the first Ottoman Jews arrived in Mexico at the turn of the century, and there they joined a greater number of Arabic-speaking Ottomans, mostly from areas that would become Syria and Lebanon. Ottoman co-religious, so Ottoman Jews who immigrated to the United States, often cast themselves or said they were oriental. And you see a similar strategy happening in Mexico for Sirio-Lebanese immigrants who often got their start peddling products that they said were from the holy land, so this idea of the holy land as an identity that they could use in some way. In contrast what you see in Mexico among Ladino-speaking Jews is that they, instead of casting themselves, instead of saying they're oriental, they tried to cast themselves as being white and being European. So this is another Mauricio that I work on, a man by, I feel like my work is often a tale of many Mauricios, and this is a picture of him before he emigrated to Mexico, taken in Izmir in what is today Izmir in Turkey, where he's dressed in a photographic studio where he dresses up in this very Ottoman fashion, which wouldn't have been what he wore on a daily basis but it's what he wore in the photography studio. And this is him and his wife when they first arrive in Veracruz in Mexico, and you can see the way that they dress and the way that they're posing themselves in this photograph as deliberately in contrast to the indigenous people they're standing next to. And it's a way of kind of marking themselves as white and as European. And in Mexico, in the early 20th century, the idea of the European was something that held great allure, and it represented progress for Porfirio Diaz, for the Mexican dictator. And Diaz encouraged the immigration of Europeans in hopes that they would both propel economic development within Mexico, but also with the idea that they would whiten the general Mexican population, so he actively encouraged white Europeans to come to Mexico. Further, in Mexico at this time, consuming products that were produced in Europe, so if you could buy something that was from Europe, such as clothing, or wine, or even travel, was something that became a marker of social status. And a way to materially express a sort of cosmopolitan identity. So French items in particular conveyed a certain level of social cache. And for many upwardly mobile Mexicans, buying something, an item of clothing or a piece of jewelry that was from France, was a way of marking yourself as upwardly mobile and a way of kind of altering certain divisions of class or of gender of of race. This embrace of the foreign and particularly French product, offered Sephardic Jews in Mexico a means of marketing their wares and themselves as being a desirable presence. So what we see happening is that many of these individuals, including actually this guy, had connections in France, and would use those connections in France to help get products for themselves. So we see many early Sephardic migrants establishing commercial venues, predominately, mostly in clothing and jewelry. And listing the French origins of their products, so for example here's one that mentions that this has commercial houses in Paris, Germany and Austria. This advertisement up here actually gives the address, the street address of their factory in Paris. This advertisement also lists that it has articles that have recently arrived from Paris, and the name of the store is Paris Bijou. So using French names even to name your store, all of these are strategies that these individuals used to kind of mark themselves as being connected to France because being connected to France meant something for them. And also you find all of these stories of Sephardic Jews in Mexico who passed themselves as French for their clients, so their clients assumed that they were from France. And these, the clothing store representatives, would make up stories about childhoods that they spent in Paris, even though they were never actually in Paris, perhaps, in their life. So, going back to the Ottoman empire briefly, with the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, there was the instatement of mandatory military service for religious minorities for the first time, or it was actually practiced for the first time. And the Balkan, there were a series of wars in the Ottoman empire between 1912 and 1913 called the Balkan Wars, that split up the Sephardic world between what became Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia, Macedonia, etc. So all of these changes going on propelled an increasing number of Ottoman Jews to emigrate. During World War I, the Ottoman empire tried to limit emigration because it was afraid that people would leave to avoid military service. But after armistice was declared, after World War I ended in 1918, a huge number of Sephardic Jews left. And this emigration was actually encouraged by Turkish officials, so after the Ottoman empire ended in 1918, there was a period of five years where it was unclear what was happening in what became Turkey, and in 1923 the republic of Turkey was established. But this sort of leaving of Sephardic Jews and others in Turkey, was encouraged by Turkish officials who saw it as a way of, kind of... homogenizing the ethno-religious composition of the new Turkish republic. So, in kind of encouraging Jews, Armenians, Greek Orthodox, as well as Kurds, to leave the country was a way of homogenizing who would remain in Turkey. And indeed, thousands of Turkish Jews left, they were faced with the dilemma of adapting to life in a new place that was in the midst of economic and linguistic Turkification, or beginning a new life in a new place. So they were either beginning a new life in an old place, or beginning a new life in a new place, and for many of them, beginning a new life in a new place was an attractive option. So it's really no coincidence that during this period in 1924, Mauricio Fresco left Turkey for Mexico. In fact, so great were the movements of emigration by 1923, that a bulletin published in Constantinople, in Ladino, in Judeo-Spanish, featured not one, but actually three advertisements for different travel agents that would take Sephardic Jews to places in France or North and South America. And this is one of these advertisements, so this is Ladino, you see it's written in the Hebrew characters, but if any of you know Spanish here and know Hebrew, you would be able to understand it fairly easily. So, OK. And Mexican officials actually wanted to capitalize on this wave of Jewish emigration from Turkey, and established a consulate in Istanbul deliberately to get Jews to come to Mexico. And one Mexican official explained, quote, "There are in Turkey, a considerable number "of Spanish Jews," or these Sephardic Jews, but he called them Spanish Jews, "Of those expelled from the Iberian Peninsula "400 years ago, who conserve the Castilian language, "and who, in spite of being Jews, are not of "the same abysmal moral condition of those "of the North of Europe, given that these in fact "do assimilate and they are entirely equal to the Spanish. "If some of these Jews were to arrive in Mexico, "they would not cause the damage that others do "to whatever state they tread on." So it's not exactly the most glowing depiction of Jews in general, but Sephardic Jews are seen in a more positive light because they have this affiliation, in certain ways, with Spain. This is a period in the United States in the early 1920s where the US starts to put restrictions on immigration, and quotas on immigration, so the 1921 Emergency Quota Act limited immigration, and then the 1924 Johnson Reed Act further limited it. And even before that the Ladino press in New York, so the press in the Ladino language that was being published in New York, began to encourage Sephardic Jews to go to Mexico and not the United States. And it used a similar language about... Sephardic Jews and this connection to Spain that we see Mexican officials using for explaining why Sephardic Jews would be a good... public to bring. So one Laidno journalist explained that the shared Iberian heritage that resulted from the almost simultaneous creation of the Sephardic diaspora, with The Spanish Expulsion in 1492, and the simultaneous creation of the Mexican people in 1492 with, I guess, Columbus going to the Caribbean. So they said the Sephardic people and the Mexican people were both created in the same year, and this facilitates the establishment of Sephardic Jews in Mexico. He said, "Mexicans and Sephardic Jews share "the same language and the same behavioral characteristics," he said, "The Spanish of Mexico resembles "our Ladino more than the Spanish of Spain. "And we could easily learn to speak Spanish better "than the Mexicans of the interior region." And here he is referring to indigenous Mexicans, he said, "We as Sephardic Jews can learn to speak Spanish "better than these indigenous Mexicans." So a comment on the social status that Sephardic Jews could get in Mexico. So whilst Sephardic Jews in the United States occupied lower rungs on a sort of Jewish sub-ethnic hierarchy by virtue of being not of central or western European origin, or eastern European origin even, those who went to Mexico, because of their linguistic proficiency in Spain and their innate understanding of Mexican social and cultural norms, had a greater opportunity for upward mobility, this is what the journalist was saying. And so what some people actually see in Mexico is that, because of the ease, the facility with which Sephardic Jews could learn Spanish, because of the similarity between Ladino and Spanish, within Mexico, Sephardic Jews often served as an intermediary between the Mexican government and Mexican officials and Jews of other origins within Mexico who didn't speak Spanish, who might be Yiddish-speaking Jews from Eastern Europe, or might be Arabic-speaking Jews from Syria. However, over the course of the 1920s, Mexico's attitude towards immigration began to shift. In the early 1920s already, Mexico prohibited the immigration of Roma populations and individuals of Chinese origins. In 1927, Mexican officials restricted the immigration of Turks, Armenians, Arabs and Palestinians, on the grounds that their engagement in peddling and in petty commerce undermined the Mexican middle class. Though some in the Mexican Foreign Ministry said that Turks should not be included in this, the restrictions against Turks also went through in 1927, and this caused a diplomatic spat between Mexico and Turkey. Further, in 1933, the Mexican Foreign Ministry sent out an encoded document to all of their consulates abroad warning against granting visas to individuals from a number of nationalities. And these were predominately along racial lines, and all Jews, with the exception of American Jews because the US got involved, were prohibited from immigrating to Mexico unless they had over 10,000 pesos that they would immediately invest in the Mexican economy. And this policy which went out in a secret code in 1933 was made public in 1934. At the same time, popular groups within Mexico increasingly called for the Mexican economy to be in the hands of Mexicans, so you see this common cry of Mexico for the Mexicans. And they initiated boycotts against Chinese, against Jews, and against Sirio-Lebanese. In 1937, a special report prepared for Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas, compared all Jews unfavorably with French and Italian immigrants. It noted that Jews were neither racially nor culturally assimilable into the Mexican people, and that, quote, "The sentimental reaction of our people in general "is anti-foreigner, and specifically antisemitic." Thus, while prior to 1927, Jews of all nationalities could immigrate freely into Mexico, after 1927 and particularly after 1934, it became much more difficult. And so, what happens is that people start falsifying documents in order to get around those immigration restrictions. And this allows them both to move into Mexico and also to get a non-Jewish social identity that would allow for some upward mobility, and what we see happening with Mauricio Fresco, but actually there's a long history. Let me just take a sip of water. Can you guys still hear me in the back, by the way? OK. But Sephardic migrants within Mexico actually had a long history of acquiring fake papers and attendant new identities, even before these restrictions on migration. And most, like Mauricio Fresco, managed to do so with ever actually raising the suspicion of migration authorities. And in all of my research I've only come across one person who, one Sephardic Jew, who actually got caught for having fake papers. This isn't to say that other didn't get caught, but if they did, they probably bribed the person, so bribery is not often, it's hard to see traces of bribery in the archival record because people don't usually note when they've accepted money for falsifying something, but it probably happened quite frequently. I don't know exactly why Fresco falsified his birth certificate, and it's not clear to me exactly how he did so. But some other migrants had more transparent motivations. And for many of them, the falsification of citizenship documents, allowed geographic mobility, and that geographic mobility was necessary for their economic success and all of this, the fake papers, the geographic mobility, and the economic success, depended on these transnational Sephardic networks. The entrance of the United States into World War I marked the first moment in which Sephardic migrants in Mexico began the large scale adoption of new citizenship papers. Although before World War I, many Sephardic Jews in Mexico had relied on exports from other Sephardic Jews living in France, so that French connection, France wasn't an enemy of the Ottoman empire during World War I, and that made it complicated for Sephardic Jews to continue to do commercial transactions with France. And so, many started then to look to the United States, which hadn't yet entered the war, as a source of merchandise. But even within one week of the United States entering World War I, I start to notice some Sephardic merchants traveling between Mexico and New York, who had already required new documents that say that they're of a different origin, to say that they're not from the Ottoman empire. The American consulate in Veracruz in Mexico was aware of such actions and it explained of the people that are called the Turks that, quote, "Generally they consider themselves French proteges "when they needed some help from the consuls "of the allied nations, but they never show papers "proving their identity and they find all sorts of "pretexts to explain the want of identification papers, "saying for example, that they left their country "when they were very young etc." And they add that, "They have a great love and admiration "of France, their second mother," and that they are, "Christians, Syrians or Jews and they hate the Turks. "When they want to go to the United states to buy goods, "they apply to the allied consulates for a pass "which is never granted, "and they profess pro-ally feelings. "However, one can say frankly that these people "have only one love and that is to make money." So again, it's not the most glowing depiction of the Turks, so Syrian and Ottoman Jews and Christians. And another American immigration official stationed at the Laredo border crossing between Texas and Mexico, reported with frustration how difficult it was to identify who was a Sephardic Jew. "These are very peculiar people," he said, "In as much as they are Jewish in blood and religion, "they are Turkish citizens and they speak Spanish, "they do their writing with Hebrew characters, "but they write in the Arabic language." So, you see this person really confusing all of these different categories, and being not quite sure how to identify who Sephardic Jews were, or how to make sense of who they were. And indeed, numerous Ottoman Sephardic migrants continue to travel for commercial purposes between the United States and Mexico on falsified papers, and many of these papers that they got, said that they were either Greek or Italian as opposed to being Ottoman. And they also relied on connections with other Sephardic migrants to maintain open supply lines, so I'll give you a few examples of this. Oops. Oh and this, sorry, this is a photograph from 1926 of central Mexico City, and you can see this banner along the side that said, you can't see it very well, but it says in Spanish, "If you buy or sell from the Jews, "you are not behaving patriotically." And this is in a commercial area of Mexico City that was mostly a textile district where there were a lot of Jews and Sirio-Lebanese who were engaged in the textile district, or in the textile industry. So this is the type of, sort of, anti-foreign sentiment that we see being expressed in Mexico increasingly in the late 1920s and into the 1930s. So, back to this example, Paris Bijou, this particular store in Mexico City that sold upscale women's clothing for the most part. And this store was owned by two men, Ben-Ur Kokiri, who was from the city of Izmir, and Miguel or Michel Palachi, who was also from the city of Izmir, whose father was the chief rabbi of the city of Izmir. And these two men were placed on what was called the Enemy Trading List, which was a list shared between England, France and the United States, that identified potential enemy agents during World War I and prohibited them from traveling to the allied countries or from doing business with the allied countries. The American Embassy investigated Paris Bijou and revealed that Kokiri and Palachi had been selling silks, lace and women's clothing to another firm that was already on the Enemy Trading List. Further, the report said Kokiri had traveled to Spain early in the war, and from there, from Spain, went throughout Latin America to, quote, "Advise his countrymen to make preparations "for having large stocks of goods on hand, "and to ensure that future shipments would "reach them in case the United States entered the war." Both Kokiri and Palachi were refused visas to the United States but they were able to use unknown agents to purchase and ship large quantities of goods from the US to Mexico during World War I. So you see this, sort of, playing out of Kokiri being connected to Spain and throughout Latin America, and relying on those connections to stockpile goods that they could continue to sell during World War I, in spite of the state department trying to keep them from moving around and from engaging in this trade. In fact, a 1919 US investigation into why Miguel Palachi's visa was approved in 1919, reveals a little bit more how this process worked. The American investigation in 1919 found out that a man by the name of Harry Mazal, who had previously lived in Mexico City, who is also from the city of Izmir, and whose brother had a very prominent optical shop in Mexico City, had been one of Palachi's main contacts during the war. And Palachi, or Mazal, when he was asked, said that he didn't know what nationality Palachi was, but he could guarantee that Palachi was neither Spanish, Armenian, or Syrian. However, Mazal was actually Palachi's cousin, which he didn't tell American investigators, so clearly he knew where his cousin was from, but it is the sense of the family member covering for another family member. And so you can see how both these, the family connections and the economic connections, are crucial tools that merchants, like Palachi and others, used to get around French and American attempts to keep them from conducting trade. Another example of how this process worked, is a man by the name of Salomon Levy, who's not really historically significant, but a very, kind of, interesting person, and he was born in Bulgaria, and migrated to Cuba during the Balkan Wars. So he left Bulgaria and went to Cuba, and then lived in Mexico for two years, and then in 1918, sought to go back to Cuba from Mexico. But the shipping agents refused to let him on the boat, and they said, because... Cuba came under American protection during this time, and Bulgaria and the United States were at war, that a Bulgarian couldn't go to Cuba. So what did Levy do? He went to the plaza, and in the plaza, encountered a Greek man selling popcorn, and he bribed this man to go with him to the Greek consulate and say that they were friends from Kavala in Greece, that they had known each other since childhood. And this was successful, Levy gave this man a gold coin and got Greek papers, and went back to the shipping agency the next day and said, "I was Bulgarian yesterday, "but today I'm Greek, let me on the boat." And this new Greek citizenship would prove critical for Levy's family, because they decided to move from Cuba to Mexico after the ban on Turks had gone into effect, but there was no ban on Greeks. And so the entire family now had Greek papers and could enter Mexico even though they were all originally, except for Levy in fact, his wife and his sisters who came with him to Mexico, were all born in Istanbul. So, you see people playing with various loopholes in the law in this way. This is another example of another Sephardic immigrant who left from Cuba to Mexico, and the way that she played with her, how she presented herself to get around restrictions on immigration. So she says, for example, that she was born in Kırk Kilise, which is today the town of Kırklareli in Turkey, but she says that it was Greece instead of being in Turkey. And she says that her religion is Orthodox and not Jewish, but she signs her name in Hebrew characters. Which for Mexican officials, probably did not know that this was Hebrew, Greek can also can look similar, right? So her signing in a non-Latin script could be indicative of her signing in Greek as opposed to her signing in Hebrew. So you see these different ways that she's playing with how she presents herself on her papers in order to be able to emigrate. I'll return now to Mauricio Fresco, and so we can see in his life the ways in which he relied on these transnational Sephardic networks. So we see for example in his 1929 naturalization petition, that he lists his profession as a traveling salesman, and he notes that he has credit with two big commercial houses in Mexico. And both of these commercial houses are owned by Sephardic Jews who had arrived earlier. Oh, but I should say, so many Sephardic Jews who went to Mexico were engaged in peddling, like other Ottomans who went to Mexico. I mean, this is just a photograph of a Sephardic peddler in Mexico City. So, one of Fresco's business contacts in Mexico City was the Alez Rocky Brothers which were a family firm, one brother was in Paris and the others were in Mexico City, and the one in Paris would send wares to the ones in Mexico City. These two brothers were both from Izmir and had come to Mexico on Italian passports. Fresco's other contact were the Fuah Brothers, who were from Constantinople, who had come to Mexico on French papers. Right, so we can see these different, these connections, the way that Fresco, in order to apply for Mexican nationality, used other Sephardic Jews who were established, as his references. We also see Fresco being used as a reference for other Sephardic Jews in Mexico who are applying for their own nationality in Mexico. So he both looks to Sephardic Jews to serve as a character witness for himself, but then also serves as a character witness for other Sephardic Jews. And to me, the way he uses the Sephardic patronage network becomes even more interesting once he leaves Mexico and goes to Shanghai. Because what happens there is that... Mauricio Tello who was the Mexican ambassador to Yokohama, who recommended Fresco for the position of honorary consul in Shanghai, did so because he said Fresco published positive things about Mexico in the press in Shanghai, and Mexico needed this image boost, particularly after thousands of Chinese were expelled from Mexico in the early 1930s, and because Fresco had good connections. And unlike his competitor for the position, Fresco was Mexican, and had good letters of recommendation from Mexico. So from here I'm interested, who wrote these letters of recommendation that supported him? And here is where we get a hint of how Fresco made recourse also to these Sephardic patronage networks. So in early February of 1931, which was several months before he was brought to the attention of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fresco wrote a letter in French from Shanghai back to Mexico. And he wrote it to, "My dear Jacque." So in this letter, Fresco explained that he had occasion to meet the Mexican ambassador to Japan, who is also, he said, from the Yucatan Peninsula. And that Fresco wanted to take possession of the position of honorary consul, and he asked his friend Jacque to intervene on his behalf with Jacque's brother in-law, who apparently was quite close to Herrera-Estrella who was the Mexican ambassador to Spain and later the Mexican ambassador to Turkey. This cher Jacque was actually an individual by the name of Jacque Benezio Asso. Benezio had arrived in Mexico from the city of Salonika in what is today Greece, the Thessaloniki, in 1915, and owned a prominent clothing store in central Mexico City which he named, in typical Sephardic fashion, La Ciudad de Paris, The City of Paris. Also, Benezio was married to a woman by the name of Amelia Mizrahi, who was a Portuguese citizen and whose father, Alberto Mizrahi, had been a Serbian until he acquired Mexican papers in 1920. Alberto Mizrahi was the crucial intermediary to which Mauricio Fresco sought recourse. Mizrahi owned a prominent store called La Hencia Mizrahi, which was a large bookstore and you can see the sign right back here for the, this is an interesting photograph, it's from a nationalist parade in Mexico City in 1932, but you can see the nationalist parade is happening and there's the La Hencia Mizrahi right behind it. And this was a large bookstore and later became an art gallery, and it was one of the few places in Mexico City that you could find materials published in English and French. And so it became a gathering place for Mexican literati, Mexican artists, so Diego Rivera was very good friends with Alberto Mizrahi, and actually put a lot of his work on exhibit in Mizrahi's gallery, as well as politicians. And Alberto Mizrahi wrote a letter to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, saying that Fresco should, advocating for Fresco to get this position in Shanghai. And first the letter was dismissed and a response was given that the position in Shanghai was already filled, but then several months later, it was Fresco's letters of reference, of which Mizrahi was the prominent one, that propelled Fresco to be recommended for the position of honorary consul. And there's no direct evidence of this, but we can perhaps surmise that Mizrahi and others in Mexico continued to advocate with their connections for Fresco to get this position. So from Shanghai, Fresco went on to Paris, he turned down a diplomatic position in Beirut and then took a diplomatic position in Bordeaux in 1938. And there he published an impassioned defense of Mexican President Lazaros Cardenas' decision to nationalize Mexican petroleum. From Bordeaux, Fresco moved on to Nazi occupied Paris, and then to Vichy controlled Marseille, and then Lisbon in Portugal, and back to Paris. And in this process he took a number of photographs that were published in Life magazine. So this is a photograph that he took in 1940, of Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, on procession in Paris. And this is a photograph he took of the wife of Marshal Petain who was the head of Vichy, France, leaving a church in Paris. So he's active as a journalist and a photo journalist as well during this period. And from the Mexican perspective, during this time, he was responsible for an immigration program for refugees from the Spanish Civil War. And under Fresco's direct command, over 20,000 Spanish refugees were given visas to go into Mexico, and this was in part facilitated by Fresco's numerous publications on how terrible the conditions were. That Spanish Civil War refugees were basically living in concentration camps in southern France, in really terrible conditions. And so Fresco was publishing a lot of materials about how bad these conditions were. Also, Fresco was able to track down and grant Mexican protection to a very small number of Sephardic Jews who were living in France during Nazi occupation. Some of these individuals had been born in Mexico and thus had Mexican citizenship, and others had relatives who had already naturalized in Mexico, and who were petitioning on their behalf. On August 24th, 1944, just five days after the liberation of Paris from Nazi occupation, Fresco traveled to Paris to open, or to re-open, a Mexican embassy there. He lost his diplomatic position in 1943 as a result of political intrigue, but he continued his writings in defense of the vulnerable. And also in defense of his own actions, so he is very much invested in projecting an image of himself as, sort of, a savior of vulnerable people. He penned a book in Spanish that was called, The Republican Spanish Emigration, A Victory for Mexico. And this book, published in 1950, was actually one of these critical books for shaping the way that scholars think about Mexican attitudes towards refugees. And so this book has really been critical in Mexican self-conceptions as a nation that accepted refugees and that welcomed refugees. In April of 1949, Fresco sent a letter to Avron Gallante, a prominent Sephardic historian, living in Istanbul, who had been friends with Fresco's father. Fresco painted a brief biography of his life for Gallante, noting that, quote, "I have worked in America as a journalist, "I have published many books, and I have contributed to "dozens of newspapers and journals in various languages." He thus drew a parallel between his current pursuits and the occupation of journalism to which his father had, quote, "Sacrificed his life and that of our family." Fresco also recounted his diplomatic exploits, though he did not mention that he served Mexico, and nor did he mention that he had long past himself off as a Mexican born in the Yucatan. His diplomatic career, he noted, had led him to prepare a book called, "Forge Your Own Passport," which sadly he never published. Though Fresco remarked that this book would likely cause him a great deal of trouble, he said, "In this book, I seek to prove the stupidity of "passports, visas, "nationalities, races, etc. "With 18 years of service in consular "and diplomatic positions, I will bring to light "many examples that prove how humanity is exploited. "Certainly everyone engages in exploitation but this "does not mean that one should abstain from denouncing it." Although Fresco did not mention to Gallante that he himself had acquired fake papers, the title of the book could easily have been drawn from his own actions. Fresco, born a Sephardic Jew, seemingly excluded on all sides from the new nationalizing states that emerged in the wake of World War I, had seen firsthand the horrors that restriction on movement and ideas of scientific racism posed. He also had a very clear idea of how stupid these practices were. Further, those around him within Mexico and he himself had acquired false citizenships, or had performed nationalities that did not correspond to their place of origin. And such manipulation of citizenship was often enabled by these transnational Sephardic patronage commercial and familial networks. To wrap up fairly quickly, examining the lives and paper trails of Mauricio Fresco and other Sephardic migrants in Mexico allows us to see several phenomena. First, we can get a glimpse of the complex web of commercial and familial ties that bound together Sephardic Jews in Mexico and beyond. And we can see the ways in which individuals accessed these networks for both personal and for economic advancement. Such networks were crucial in creating and maintaining a Sephardic cultural sphere, a Sephardic cultural world, that extended across and beyond the new state borders, that divided the traditional Sephardic homeland. Second,w e can perhaps reevaluate Mauricio Fresco's actions in light of his falsified identity. For this individual who fashioned himself a Mexican patriot, who ardently advocated for Mexican causes, did it ultimately matter that he was not indeed legally Mexican? In terms of the success of his career, his real origins never brought to light, only mattered in so far as he was able to use Sephardic patronage networks to get his initial diplomatic position. And yet, his success at blending in, as passing as Mexican in spite of his imperfect Spanish, and his flawed knowledge of Mexican history and geography, are similar to the success with which many other Sephardic migrants in Mexico were successfully able to pass themselves off as French, or as ambiguously European, and this points to another significance. Through looking at the life of Mauricio Fresco and other Sephardic migrants in Mexico, we can explore the ways in which ideas of citizenship mapped imperfectly onto Jews. While some scholars have recently characterized Ottoman Jews as misfits in the new citizenship regimes that accompanied or followed World War I, what I want to say is that these individuals, though maybe on the uncomfortable edges of national imaginings, were not misfits. Or rather, the same characteristics that marked them as misfits, their religion, their language abilities, their ambiguous national origins, and recourse to extensive commercial, transnational commercial, and familial networks, also made them the human equivalent of master keys. It allowed them to accommodate and to fit in to many places. Mexican officials justified the exclusion of all Jews, as in the 1937 report prepared for President Cardenas, on the grounds that Jews were assimilable, that they did not mix into the Mexican people The ability of Mauricio Fresco to blend in so well, even to the point of convincing President Cardenas himself of Fresco's Mexicanness, points, in Fresco's own words, "To the stupidity of nationality, or of race, "as a basis for distinguishing individuals. "And also on the inability of prohibitions, "or restrictions, along national, racial "or religious lines, to exclude those "who are intent on entering a place." If, in the words of that frustrated American immigration official in 1917, "These are a very peculiar people," Sephardic migrants were individuals who were adeptly skilled at playing their peculiarities to their own advantage. And this all happens in a world that had become, in the title of yet another book by Mauricio Fresco, A Very Curious World. So, thank you very much for mostly staying awake. (audience applauding) - We're gonna take some questions and answers, so I'll... We probably have about, oh, 15, 20 minutes of that. So if you have any questions, please go ahead and raise your hand and I'm sure Professor... Yes, please. - Did being Jewish hurt them? Because Mexican society is Catholic. Did that hurt them at all socially, politically? - So it hurt them... unevenly, and its changed over time. That Jewishness was not something that Jews in Mexico would, kind of, openly advertise. And so there was a fair amount, particularly by the time we get into the later 1920s and definitely in the 1930s, there was a fair amount of antisemitism in Mexico. Some of it was economically based and some of it was increasingly on ideas of race. And so ostensibly it hurt somebody to be a Jew in Mexico, but the thing was that it depended on whether or not you were identifiable as a Jew. And so the ways that Jewishness becomes legible in Mexico, is particularly through, for Ashkenazi Jews, for Jews who spoke Yiddish and had Ashkenazi, or kind of, stereotypically European or German-sounding, or Polish, or Russian-sounding last names. And so these Sephardic Jews who had last names that were Spanish in essence, and who spoke Spanish to some degree, they were not targeted with antisemitism because they weren't read as being Jewish, the way that somebody, a Jew from Poland, or a Jew from Russia was. So we see this playing out kind of unevenly, and how being Jewish actually impacted Jewish immigrants in Mexico. - Lucas? - Devi Mays, I just want to say thank you again for your presentation, I actually have a question about one of the points that you made earlier in your presentation about the Sephardic network that existed, actually in Shanghai, I believe is what you said. After the Second World War and into the Chinese Revolution in 1949, did that community persist? What became of that community after 1949? - That community was, after 1949, basically dismantled, and so I mean, there were actually multiple Jewish communities in Shanghai, so there was a large... Particularly with World War II, German Jews who fled Nazi Germany, and then there was a large, very large, or very prominent Baghdadi Jewish population in Mexico, or in Shanghai, particularly involved in the opium trade. And Fresco (laughs) actually really didn't like the Baghdadi Jews and in his book that he got in trouble for, went on this long rant against these Baghdadi Jewish opium traders. So you don't necessarily see these Jewish worlds kind of coinciding or, kind of, living together very well. There were not so many Ladino-speaking Jews in Shanghai, so Fresco himself is kind of an outlier, in that, we see scattered throughout, say, the Philippines and southeast Asia, very small pockets of Sephardic Jews who are then connected back through Shanghai, but it's not a major center for this particular population. - [Lucas] Thank you. - [Mays] Yeah. - [Host] Julie? - Thank you for a wonderful talk, it was really an incredible portrait of these Sephardic's malleable identities, and for me, so much in contrast with the emigrates during the 1930s, particularly the German Jews that are fleeing Germany (mumbles) but were German. Like what's going on here, right? So this really interesting, kind of, contrast for me as a European historian to hear this story. I guess I'm puzzling over the fact that, in the talk, the one identity that's not problematized or problematic is actually Sephardic. So I'm wondering, is there a point at which, for them, this no longer becomes a very clear category? Or is this, for you as a historian, does this become a problematic category at some point? - That's a great question. So the category of Sephardic, what's... And I should say for me, and this is a caveat that I actually had and then skipped over in the talk, I realized that I'm treating this very unproblematically, the issue of Sephardic here, and this, sort of, shared Sephardic identity. What I will say with this is two things, so on the one hand, these individuals don't often talk about themselves as Sephardic, right? They don't publish things where they talk about themselves as a Sephardic community. But they do talk about... excuse me, "our colony," so they use this language where it's not identifying themselves as Sephardic, but it's identifying this group of individuals and its connections elsewhere as being part of some sort of colony or community. And I call it Sephardic here, they didn't use that label themselves for it. So I do need to clarify that particular point. And... Fresco is a kind of interesting example of how all of this works in terms of what even does Sephardic, how Jewish is Mauricio Fresco, right? How, he's Sephardic, he's of the Sephardic Jewish family, but how much does a Sephardic identity as such, or a Jewish identity as such, matter to him? And he ended up, he impregnated a very young Canadian woman in 1946 and married her, two months after they had, who was not Jewish, two months after she gave birth in Mexico City, their daughter was baptized. When Fresco died, he was cremated, so he wasn't buried according to Jewish law. And so in his own life, being Jewish, as a religious identity, didn't seem to be so important for him. But where it becomes interesting for me is that, in spite of that religious aspect of the identity sort of falling away, he's still very much making recourse to, and connected to, other parts of this colony. Be it his family who's scattered throughout Turkey, France and the United States. Be it friends and relatives in Mexico and beyond. And so I'm still struggling with how exactly to talk about this in a way that doesn't essentialize certain identities, and I haven't done it successfully in the talk, but this is something that I'm still very much puzzling with, is how really to talk about this in a way that captures the nuances of it. Yeah. - Other questions, yes? - Yes, so I think there's a different way to answer Julie's question, because also, I mean, the question serves as the question, because I think that they are, the identity of the German Jews, are not any more legible than the identity of the Spanish Jews. And it is proven the geography is more easily identified internationally. But then the two identities are actually somewhat stoic to, is linked in abilities (distortion drowns out voice), and that's the way the world works. Fellows, even internationally until 1929, it sounds like, emigrating from place (mumbles), emigrating from Turkey, is precisely the notion of some sort of a Spanish parentage, that is the way the elite sold (distortion drowns out voice) Spanish, and Europe going on, which still, Mexico, does buy into, just in the way (distortion drowns out voice) in which we have Islamic (distortion drowns out voice) and here, the Alliance Universelle, become French, so the French nationalism, and it looks like there's something that works in the whole international link in about 1929. But it happens in the (distortion drowns out voice) domestic politics it looks like, in Mexico itself, or they're trying to peddle some type of European Spanish identity as opposed to varieties of Ottoman (distortion drowns out voice) identities. But the story changes when the international situation changes in the 1970s and with the emergence of fascism and national socialism in Germany, and then the Germanness of the Jews begins to trump anything else that has to do with the notion of the Jewish. And so that type of Spanish thing no longer works and the Jew becomes a Jew, and the Spanish Jew then also becomes part of that category that has been constructed (distortion drowns out voice). Which one to guide, is more of a choice, but we're to go and say, no (distortion drowns out voice), and that is where (distortion drowns out voice). And I would put, the answer is also (distortion drowns out voice), I mean, the thing is that what gives them, the Spanish, A, you have the network, if only, not only in terms of identity, but use (distortion drowns out voice), an answer, you have the network that operates, that's it. And secondly, not only have the network, but they are identified as Spanish at least for awhile, at least until 1921, by the other, (distortion drowns out voice), but that's your way around the nature of, the problem that lies in the character of the Spanish identity. - Yeah, it could be. I, it's... I mean, it's grappling with on the one hand, how these individuals are being characterized by the different places they're traveling through and how at the same time they're characterizing themselves. What's interesting with Fresco is that, yes in 1929 he applies for Mexican papers, but he actually got a fake birth certificate in Mexico in 1926. I'm still not quite sure what to make of the fact that he got a fake Mexican birth certificate in '26, and then tried to apply for Mexican nationality legally in 1929, and then that nationality petition disappeared and all he was left with was the Mexican birth certificate, that then he brought with him his entire life to say that he was Mexican. And so it's not quite... so clear cut as, that everything changed in 1929 and into the '30s with the rise of fascism. Definitely from the Mexican perspective, it did. At least where, as you noted, the Spanishness of the Spanish Jew, of the Sephardic Jew, falls away. And definitely this is, in the eyes of the Mexican government, a shift that you can see over the course of the later 1920s, away from the idea that Spanish Jews are somehow more Spanish than Jewish, and therefore fit really well into this project of (speaks in foreign language), of kind of forming the Mexican Nation along these certain lines that we see really prominently in Mexico in the mid '20s. By the '30s, all Jews are Jews first and foremost, and it doesn't matter where they're from, from the perspective of the Mexicans. But I still don't, Julie's question, I think there's still something I really need to grapple with about how these individuals conceive of themselves. Yes, there is a network there, and can we talk about how this network then forms some sort of identity, but what term do we use to talk about that, if not Sephardic and if not Jewish? - I'm gonna take the privileges of honorary and ask a question. (Mays laughs) The one thing that seems to be missing here is Israel. So I mean he, as you said, he's incredibly malleable in terms of how he shapes himself, how identifies himself. But in 1948, there's a huge event, which is the creation of the state of Israel, which ostensibly at least, for some amongst the Zionists, the argument is that Israel becomes the definer of what it means to be a Jew. So I'm kind of curious as to how he deals with that and what he thinks of all of this. - He never mentions it. - Wow. (Mays laughs) Well, that in itself is remarkable actually. - And I mean, within the Ottoman-Jewish world, there is more of an ambivalence towards Zionism historically, particularly in the late Ottoman period, because Palestine was a province of the Ottoman empire, and for many Ottoman Jews, they were afraid that if they started advocating for a Jewish state in Ottoman Palestine, that it would make the Ottoman government look at them as a potential fifth column, or as disloyal. And so, Fresco's father, David Fresco, who was the newspaper editor, for example, was vehemently anti-Zionist, he did not support Zionism at all, and published a lot of very angry editorials in his newspaper for decades about how Zionism was a negative thing for Ottoman Jews and later for Turkish Jews. Yeah, but you don't really see Fresco adopting, or really discussing Israel at all, I mean, so what's interesting... Actually for a lot of the people that I'm looking at, Israel's not a major thing of concern, particularly for the people who were, say... born before the establishment of the, like before the end of the Ottoman empire. So the people who were born after 1918, even those who emigrated to Mexico or elsewhere, were more involved in Zionism than those who were born in the Ottoman period. So you see a generational gap there as well. - Other questions? Alright, well thank you so much for being here and thank you Doctor Mays. - Thank you. (audience applauding)

Notable people

Please see List of Lebanese people in Colombia

See also


  1. ^ "Estimación de la mortalidad, 1985-2005" [Estimation of mortality, 1985-2005] (PDF). Postcensal Studies (in Spanish). Bogotá, Colombia: DANE. March 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 November 2007. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  2. ^ Randa Achmawi (21 July 2009). "Colombia awakens to the Arab world". Brazi-Arab News Agency. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Proyecciones nacionales y departamentales de población. 2006-2020" [National and departmental population projections. 2006-2020] (PDF) (in Spanish). DANE National Statistical Service, Colombia. September 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 November 2007. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  4. ^ a b Louise Fawcett De Posada; Eduardo Posada-Carbó (1992). "En la tierra de las oportunidades: Los sirio-libaneses en Colombia" [In the land of opportunity: The Syrian-Lebanese in Colombia]. Cultural and Bibliographical Bulletin (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 25 October 2006. Retrieved 30 August 2007.
  5. ^ "En Busca Del Paraíso" [In Search of Paradise] (in Spanish). 17 October 1994. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  6. ^ Diego Andrés Rosselli Cock (15 December 2005). "La comunidad musulmana de Maicao (Colombia)" [The Muslim Community of Maicao (Colombia)] (in Spanish). Retrieved 29 March 2016.
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