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Sikhs became substantially assimilated into local society
and sometimes the third and second generations would not even
call themselves Sikhs. Turbaned Sikhs are a rarity. Some of
the first generation immigrants got married locally and almost
all of them have done so in the second and third generation.
New immigrants though are more ambivalent in this respect.
However, an emotional bond with their heritage still exists,
judging by the Gurdwara commissioned in the early nineties
in Rosario de la Frontera.
Despite being the second largest country in South America
and the eighth largest in the world, Argentina has always
fallen short of being able to establish itself as the major
power, which its size and range of industries suggest. Corrupt
military Governments and bad economic management has been
the problem. Another factor is probably the pattern of immigration
in earlier years, as the land was owned by only a small section
of the population in the form of huge estates, which encouraged
vested interests. The economic crisis earlier in this century
forced devaluation of the Argentinean currency to a third
of its earlier parity with US Dollar. Argentina has almost
exclusively European population (contrast with Bolivia and
Brazil). The country has good farmland, grazing areas, high
mountains to the North and West and the southern-most city
of the world. Climate is moderate except on the mountains
and in the deep South where winters can be severe. Along with
other South American countries except for Brazil, Argentina
is Spanish speaking. The Spaniards discovered it in 1516,
but the local Indians killed the expedition leader. La Plata
was really settled successfully only in 1580. Argentina declared
independence from Spain in 1816. The country boasts of such
charismatic leaders as San Martin, who ranks high as liberator
of Spanish America. The country also had such romantic rulers
as Peron and Eva Duarte later Eva Peron of “Don’t
Cry for me Argentina” Broadway musical fame.
The First Immigrants
No definitive information is available but the national census
of 1895 shows the presence of six Indo-English persons as
per Lia Rodriguez De La Vega, a Buenos Aires Researcher. A
house built in village Lagheri, dating back to 1911 by Gunwant
Singh on his visit back home would indicate 19th century immigration.
According to Baldev(Daniel) Singh of village Bopa Rai Khurd,
who lived in Argentina for over two decades, the British who
were setting up sugar mills were facing difficulties because
of “Veerappan” type brigands and sought the help
of Sikhs to provide security for their operations.....
Article Published in The
Sikh Review - December 2004 - No. 624