|They usually speak Spanish as well as their tribal dialects, practice Christian religions about as well as Mexican
campesinos and their idols, probably hold Mexican Voter registration cards and are stereotyped as fortunetellers and
swindlers just like in the USA.
Their nomadism is legendary and commemorated in operas (Carmen), movies, and folktales mothers use to scare their
Their first appearance in the Americas began with several Gypsy companions of Columbus, and continued in waves of
immigration to countries like Brazil in 1574, the US, (more than 1 million by now) and also Mexico. During the French
escapade in Mexico, the allied Austrian emperor exported numerous Gypsies to Mexico to help the unsuccessful French
In the early 1890´s a large tribe of Gypsies, mostly from Hungary, arrived intent on settlement. A few years later a second
group of Gypsies, known as Ludar, arrived intending to cross the US border but apparently preferred the Mexican climate.
By 1993 an estimate placed 53,000 Hungaros in Mexico mostly in Mexico City and Guadalajara. Zapoapan in Jalisco seems
to be their largest community with upward of 50 families living there. In 2001, the Ludar tribe of Gypsies published its
memoirs, La lumea de noi. Memoria de los ludar de México.
Two families of Hungaros discovered Catemaco, Veracruz in the early 1990's. Other Mexican tourist communities also
have influxes of panhandling Hungaros (only women) and practice the same alarmist counter tactics to evict them as
Catemaco has tried various times in the past.
Considering the Catemaco reputation as a haven for Brujos (sorcerers), I think it´s kind of nice to see troops of Hungaras
(women Gypsies) in their long colorful beachwear (or maybe that is traditional costume) accosting tourists on the Malecon
to read their palms and peddle chintzy good luck amulets. After all, you never see an identifiable Catemaco Brujo walking
down the street casting spells.
|Gypsies (Gitanos) are called Hungaros (Hungarians) in Mexico because the first large group of gypsies arrived in Mexico
Gypsies began their westward migration out of India around 1000 AD possibly because of tribal mercenary commitments.
Like many other migrant ethnic groups they faced discrimination, including 500 years of slavery in Romania and
extermination in Nazi Germany and lately ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
Although the Gypsies call themselves Roma, their commonly used name derives from Egypt, actually Little Egypt, which is
what the Spaniards called the Balkan states in the Mediterranean.