Recently, I wrote about the Pew Hispanic Center’s report that detailed the countries of origin for America’s Latinos. To no one’s surprise, Mexico is the top source of our Hispanics, with Puerto Rico and Cuba following.
Those Latinos who don’t have the blood of those fine nations/territories in their veins (including your humble blogger) have felt a little on the fringe. So you can imagine my surprise when Pew said that my family’s homeland of El Salvador was number four on the list.
The reason this intrigued me is because, as I’ve written before, I grew up in the Midwest, where Latinos were sparse (at the time). Even rarer in my hometown was someone like me who answered, “Hispanic” but then had to clarify that I was not part Mexican. Many kids I grew up with became flummoxed when I explained that Latin America did not consist entirely of Mexico. Many of their parents, sadly, were similarly befuddled.
I spent a lot of time in my teen years explaining that El Salvador was an entirely separate country, and nowhere near Acapulco or Cancun. One of my friends had never heard of the nation and referred to it as San Salvador (the country’s capital) until I gave up correcting her.
So it’s amusing to me that today, so many Latinos in America hail from the place. I had no idea we were so popular.
Of course, one reason that many Salvadorans are here is because of the devastating civil war that ripped the country apart in the 1980s. Although my family’s genesis in America goes back to the 1960s (quite a while for Salvadorans), some of my cousins came here to escape that conflagration. They, and millions more like them, stayed to become Americans.
But again, back in those days, being from El Salvador was like saying, “My family hails from San Marino.” A look of WTF was the most common reaction.
That is most likely not the case today. If you’ve heard of the Dominican Republic (number five on the Pew list), then you’ve probably heard of El Salvador. And although it’s a little sad to lose that flair of exoticness, it’s a relief to not have to explain where the hell our ancestors came from.
Leave that to the Paraguayans.