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Ambassador Mihaylov: Bulgarian Community in Argentina Took 100 Years to Form

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"I am convinced that awareness of the Bulgarian emigration in Argentina is key to understanding the nature of Bulgarian communities abroad," Bulgarian Ambassador to Buenos Aires Stoyan Mihaylov said during an online discussion titled Bulgarians in Argentina II: Buenos Aires and Beriso.
"We are talking about a community that has been formed over 100 years. We have a very large migration at the moment, which is just beginning to develop, in some countries we have 350,000 – 400 000 fellow Bulgarians. They are part of a new migration, but they will gradually become what we see in Argentina," the Bulgarian diplomat said. 
In his words, the only direction for the development of relations between Bulgaria and Argentina is upwards and forward.
Bulgaria’s National Day , celebrated on March 3, is one of the most celebrated dates by the Ivan Vazov Bulgarian Cultural Association in Beriso, it transpired from the online conference. "The celebration of our holiday there is traditionally accompanied by dances of the folklore group Sedyanka [A get together], which was founded back in 1955.
This year, the twinning of Beriso with the Bulgarian city of Ruse (on the Danube) saw the opening of an exhibition titled Portraits of My Beautiful City, by Bulgarian artist Ivan Ivanov. For several years the Bulgarian community association has also organised a celebrations on May 24, which is the Day of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius, of the Bulgarian Alphabet, Education and Culture and of Slavic Literature
The Argentine-Bulgarian Foundation, founded in 1985 and chaired by Ruzhka Nikolova, came into being after organizing a Bulgarian language course, which was initially attended by 30 people. 
"We also have members of the society who are just our friends without being of Bulgarian origin. With small interruptions, over the years we have always had a Bulgarian language course. We also have a dance group called ‘Tangra’ which is wildly applauded at its performances. Every year we participate in events dedicated to the Week of Bulgarian Culture here," Nikolova said. 
Dimitar Kararusinov of the Executive Agency for Bulgarians Abroad also took part in the discussion, pointing out that every community has its own history and creates organisations that determine its development. 
"You know the story that Bulgaria is where there is a Bulgarian. It is fairer to say that Bulgaria is where the organisations of Bulgarians are because they know the problems and could offer solutions. These are independent, autonomous organisations that have not created by the Bulgarian administration," he said.
"The seminar is the fifth in a series of talks organized by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum.
The port of Buenos Aires is the gateway to Argentina through which almost all Bulgarian migrants have passed. The first ones to settle in the city for a while are from Plovdiv and Adrianople [present-day Edirne in Turkiye]. They passed through Egypt and in 1904 arrived in the Argentine capital, where Bulgarians from Bitola and Syar [present-day Serres in Greece] had already come. Others came after them, but the biggest wave was in the 1920s, probably due to the immigration restrictions introduced in the US at that time, according to Bulgarian researchers Lina Gergova and Valentin Voskresensky, who will present their works at the seminar.
In the first and second decade of the 20th century, nearly 75% of the Bulgarian migrants lived in the city and province of Buenos Aires, but in the 1930s they decreased in numbers there due to the mass exodus to the provinces of Chaco, Chubut, Cordoba, and Santa Fe. Towards the end of WWII, Bulgarians in Buenos Aires worked mostly in factories, on the roads, in artisan workshops, on construction sites, including the capital’s subway, at the port, and in the nearby town of Berizo, where  they toiled in the US- and British-owned slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants. 
From the very beginning of their migration to Argentina, Bulgarians organized activities, including  native Bulgarian associations, a music and theatre troupe, a cultural association and newspapers.
After WWII, Bulgarian organizations had to deal with anti-communist sentiments in Argentina, which put Eastern Europeans and communists together. At the end of the 1940s, the Bulgarian and Slavic organizations were closed down and their property confiscated – only the Society in Beriso managed to cope with this crisis and in 1955 it was re-founded, with its members soon afterwards building its new home on  Montevideo Street, where they still meet and organise their celebrations. 
The research among the Bulgarians in Argentina was carried out by Associate Professors Lina Gergova and Valentin Voskresensky under the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences’ project titled Cultural Heritage and Institutionalization of Bulgarian Historical and Contemporary Migrant Communities Abroad. The project is funded by the Scientific Research Fund of the Ministry of Education and Science.

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