How culture unites Latin Americans and people from the Balkans

There have been important migrations from the former Yugoslavia to Chile, Argentina, and Latin American nations. Migrants bring an invaluable cultural contribution.

How culture unites Latin Americans and people from the Balkans
There have been important migrations to Brazil, Argentina, and other Latin American nations. Photo by Roberto Huczek / Unsplash

Mexican and Latin American cinema, literature, and music have been accepted and embraced by the nations that made up the former Yugoslavia, a common reference that allows them to dialogue among themselves and are a source of inspiration for some of their works, said specialists gathered at the 9th Latin American and Caribbean Conference of Social Sciences. Wefts of Inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean. Knowledge, struggles, and transformations.

During the round table "Migrations and human mobility", experts from Serbia, Brazil, Mexico, and Spain agreed that the works of Carlos Fuentes, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez or reminiscences of Mexican cinema left their mark on the inhabitants of the area also known as the Balkans, which is why more than 100,000 of its inhabitants decided to migrate to the Americas in search of new opportunities in the first half of the 20th century.

Bojana Kovačević Petrović, a researcher at the Ibero-American Center CIBAM, the faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Novi Sad in Serbia specified that the Balkan region had long been considered marginalized in Europe, and even after World War II they lived in a regime that did not want to be close to either Russia or the United States, but to seek a path of their own.

In each armed conflict that the Balkan region has faced, there have been important migrations to Chile, Argentina, and other nations of the American continent, bringing with them an important and invaluable cultural contribution that has among its representatives the Chilean writers Antonio Skármeta and Andrea Jeftanovic, explained the researcher.

Migrations to America brought with them that in the 1970s, at least 150 performances of Yugoslav groups were recorded in Mexico, and its ruler, the dictator Josip Broz Tito, traveled several times to Mexico, and even emerged what was known as the movement called Yu-Mex.

"A common point of view was found in Mexico and an example of this is that the film Un día de Vida (starring Columba Domínguez and Roberto Cañedo) was a success in Serbia and although it is not well known here until recently the only remaining copy of this film could be found on YouTube, with subtitles in Slovenian," said the researcher.

Hundreds of singers performed Mexican music in Yugoslavia, from mañanitas to boleros rancheros, and although it is less active, the Yu-Mex still maintains some of its activities.

Bosnian Ivo Andrić, winner of the 1961 Nobel Prize for Literature, admitted to being an admirer of Simón Bolívar; likewise, author Vasko Popa was a great friend of Jorge Luis Borges and vice versa, Carlos Fuentes was inspired by the stories of the Diocletian Palace for his novels Terra Nostra, Cumpleaños and Todas las Familias Felices.

"Yugoslavia was an empire of translation, a lot of Latin American literature was translated, and even today there is an impressive interest in what is written in this land. That is why we are pleased that the New General History of Mexico is about to be published, which will soon be published in Serbia," she said.

In turn, Norma Angélica Cuevas Velasco, a researcher at the Universidad Veracruzana, presented her research work on "Latin America as a literary canvas in the work of Serbian writer Goran Petrović. Balkan migrations to Latin America, as in the case of Latin American nations, have occurred for economic reasons, violence, and to aspire to better education or a better salary, and this is reflected in the work of the renowned writer Goran Petrović.

His work " Atlas described from the sky" offers literary images of travels, and maps and along the way recovers a tradition beyond discovery, conquest, or encounter that evidences the influence that authors such as Julio Cortázar, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez have had on the author who has already visited Mexico on several occasions, said Cuevas Velasco.

Maria Teresa Toribio Brittes Lemos, from the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, spoke about Balkan migrations in a globalized world, especially to Brazil, and their cultural influence; Milan Puh, academic from the Universidade de São Paulo, expressed the points of contact and collaboration of Slavic and Brazilian studies; Isabel Story, from Nottingham Trent University and Emilio Gallardo-Saborido, from CSIC in Spain, commented on the Mit sozialistischem Gruβ, and the notes of the cultural exchange between Cuba and the German Democratic Republic.