Lebanese migration to Paraguay

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The arrival of immigrants of Lebanese origin to Paraguay consisted of a large number of people who have settled in this country, bringing their customs and way of life.

Many were the reasons which prompted these people to leave their native Lebanon and migrate to several Latin American countries, with the aim to seek a better quality of life after the World War I and Second World War

Background[edit]

Lebanese in Paraguay

The strategic position of Lebanon in the Mediterranean Sea has meant ongoing invasions. It was part of Syria and the Ottoman Empire until 1918.

After the First World War it passed to the hands of the French, from which it gained its independence on October 22, 1943, even though it declared its independence, the actions of the Second World War did not allow that this were fully effective until 1946.

The intervention of Lebanon in the Arab-Israeli War 1948, its moral support to the Arabs in the Arab-Israeli War of Six Days (1967) and the arrival in the country of many Palestinians, have meant a constant hostility with neighboring Israel, first in 1970 and then in 1982, triggering the latter occasion in a bout in Beirut, which did not cease until the departure from Lebanon of Palestinian guerrillas. This situation resulted from immigration of many Lebanese in the late nineteenth century and the beginning of the century in search of a better perspective of life. With effort they managed to succeed in a different society from their culture.

The immigration of the Lebanese to Paraguay can be divided into two eras: ancient and modern. Among the reasons which prompted the uprooting are included both the political reason, and also the economic one.

The political reason responds to the need to escape the troubled relations that have emerged during the Ottoman Empire in the region. The economic reason lies in the many disappointments and poverty, the consequences of World War I.

In a second term after the Second World War, where thousands of people, mostly men, took the decision to leave the mother homeland because of the havoc that the war had caused.

In this journey towards finding a better future, they had to undertake long voyages in boats, often without knowing where they embark and disembark where it was even worse. In these trips they had to deal with many troubles, diseases and nostalgia. They were forced to withstand natural disasters of all kinds in the middle of the sea.

Arrival to Paraguay[edit]

Group of Lebanese immigrants

The first destination where they got was the harbor in Buenos Aires Argentina to which they arrived without even speaking Spanish and without knowing its customs. But they did not take much to adapt and strive to rebuild a decent life, forming households and having children without forgetting their roots.

They were organized in groups and communities, in order to find the best place to settle. Following trips by rivers or on trains until they came to Paraguay and then distributed in various places of the country where trade could be a prominent occupation.

They settle in Asuncion, the country's capital, and also in Concepcion, Puerto Rosario, Villarrica, Itacurubi del Rosario, Encarnacion, San Estanislao, Pedro Juan Caballero, Caraguatay and other cities. Mixing with Paraguayan society and after much effort and work they could open shops, factories or cultivate the land.

They dedicated not only learn the Castilian but also the Guaraní, they fought in the Chaco War, participated with their civilization and helped building the country. Joined their lives in marriage to men and women of Paraguay, respected the cultural identity of the country that hosted them. They taught their children the values of love for the two cultures, which created clubs and associations which still preserve their traditions.

The last major contingent of immigrants arrived in Paraguay in the late 60 and early 70.

The majority of Lebanese-Paraguayans are Christians who belong to the Maronite Church, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Melkite Catholic. A scant number are Muslims.

In addition to being of Lebanese descent, there are Paraguayans of Syrian and Palestinian origin as well.[1]

Surnames[edit]

Many Arab surnames from Lebanon today stand out in Paraguayan society as political leaders and national authorities, businessmen, writers and people dedicated to the arts in general.

Some of these surnames were modified to improve their pronunciation in Spanish, but many retain their original identity.

The most common are; Aboud, Aid, Armel, Arar, Rossi, Atat, Ayala, Azar, Barchini, Buzarquis, Canan/Kanan, Nader, Cofure, Curi/Kuri/Juri, Daher, Damus, Diaz, Dibb, Elias, Esgaib/Zgaib, Esquef/Skef, Fadlala, Fadul, Farah, Garcia, Ghobril, Giral, Gosen/Gosn/Ghosn/Hosen, Haddad, Haitter/Haidar, Harare, Host, Ismael/Ysmail, Kalfat, Mohur, Maluff, Mancos, Mende, Musi, Ouchana, Rahi, Resck/Risk, Rosas, Sabag, Safua, Sardi, Seif din, Serrano, Yambay/Yampey, Yanho, Yauhari, Yore, Yunis.

Notable people[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ John Tofik Karam, "On the Trail and Trial of a Palestinian Diaspora: Mapping South America in the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1967-1972" http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9070730

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