My Cute Little Gypsy
They have been a topic for several stories, in texts or either films. Their dressing varies so much from country to country that they have been portrayed as the good guys and the bad guys. In Argentina the gypsy woman dresses very colourfully, and wears a scarf on her head to indicate marriage. Families trade their girls for gold or in the case of Argentine gypsies, they trade for cars or cash (being that selling cars their main source of income).
But buying a gypsy girl is not that simple. First, you must be a Gypsy and be prepared to pay a high price if you want a virgin. (maybe it is the same insecurity men have in Western culture). As in some cultures, marriages are arranged.
There is a simple, but not very scientific, method to check if the girl they buy is a virgin or not. They throw a drop of oil in the girl's petticoat (underskirt), where there should be a stain of blood after the sexual act, then wait for a flower to slowly fade in the blood stain.
In Argentina, there are some cases where a Gypsy man married a so-called criolla or Argentine. But there is a problem when a woman wants to have a criollo boyfriend or husband, in which case, she must run away from the family and make sure that she is never found.
The women work doing Tarot card or palm readings, and selling goods on the streets such as toothbrushes, needles, thread or stamps. They are also in charge of the cooking and cleaning in the home. The children are not educated in the school system. Their customs and language skills are learned at home with the family. In Argentina, they must attend primary school by law. Although in most of the cases, they drop out because of racism and segregation in the institutions leading to confrontation between them and local authorities.
In general, mothers and children can be seen in the suburbs walking and working for their money, and in some cases begging for some money if their families are poor. In Argentina, the Gypsy children are seen as part of the social problem, Chicos de la calle, (children of the streets).
Argentina has received immigration mostly from Europe, but as every multicultural country it possess many different cultural minorities. Arabic, Jewish, Armenians, Irish and so many other cultures live in this vast land; 1% is native (original owners of this land) and about 10 to 12 percent are mestizos (even though this number is probably higher, that is denied by the locals). The mestizos are the mix between natives and whites.
What is truly sad is that this country has never had cultural and language protection policies for minorities. The minorities are in a constant struggle to create schools and institutions and found from the government to preserve this very rich asset, the diversity of cultures.
The Gypsies come from different groups of immigration, some of them are: Calderas, Greeks, Moldavos and Russians, some of the Lovari families and some Xoraxane Roma (All these groups speak Romani and some of them are Christian, different from the European gypsies who are Muslims). Calargentinos y Espanas (only speak Spanish since they came from Spain) and Boyash came from Serbia and Romania and speak Romanian and Serbian. They arrived in Argentina almost 100 years ago.
Xenophobia is not the only cause for the gypsies not to send their kids to school. There is also fear of losing their language and customs. Some families only send their children to primary school and keep them away from the rest of the cultures surrounding them. But some others have learned the fact that the family business can't progress by isolating themselves and not educating the children will only make them poorer.
There are some cases where children have achieved a better mastering of their language by learning one at school and developed a strong love for their own culture and customs by being exposed out of school.
In all cases there is a very strong sense of cooperation. They live in large families in houses with a large front yard with big fences where they display their merchandise and relax. There is no use of furniture, doors or anything that could be a hassle to take with them in the case of an exile.
The segregation towards gypsies in Argentina is commonly seen between neighbours and usually with some Jewish families that don't get along with people of Muslim descent.
It is typical to hear in restaurants, "there is no space for you" or any excuse to get rid of one of the most stupid things mankind has: FEAR.
Fractions of this text are direct translations the AICRA's
Silvio Cascino resides in Neuquen where he sells bowls and, flourishing his hijo de dueno card at his customers, discusses politics and possibilities.