by Janet Crain
Look at the person, not the background.
Sotomayor is listed as a Sephardic Jewish name dating from the 1450s in Spain. It appears in many Sephardic name lists. In the Pre-Inquisition and for a century-plus after, the term "Portuguese" meant "Sephardic Jewish." In 1492, at the Expulsion, thousands of Jews went to Portugal where they thought they would be safe. Unfortunately, just a few years later, they again had to make the choice of convert to Catholicism under force or leave. In many cases, they were forced to convert through the forcible taking of their children. To Sephardim, there is no difference between Spanish and Portuguese.
Schelly Talalay Dardashti
Tracing the Tribe - The Jewish Genealogy Blog
The people of Puerto Rico represent a cultural and racial mix. When the Spanish forced the Taíno people into slavery, the entire indigenous population was virtually decimated, except for a few Amerindians who escaped into the remote mountains. Eventually they inter-married with the poor Spanish farmers and became known as jíbaros. Because of industrialization and migration to the cities, few jíbaros remain.
Besides the slaves imported from Africa (Sudan, Kongo, Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leona, and the Gold, Ivory, and Grain coasts), other ethnic groups brought to work on the plantations joined the island's racial mix. Fleeing Simón Bolívar's independence movements in South America, Spanish loyalists fled to Puerto Rico - a fiercely conservative Spanish colony during the early 1800s. French families also flocked here from both Louisiana and Haiti. As changing governments or violent revolutions depressed the economies of Scotland and Ireland, many farmers from those countries also journeyed to Puerto Rico in search of a better life.
When the United States acquired the island in 1898, American influence was added to culture.
During the mid-19th century, labor was needed to build roads, initially, Chinese workers were imported for this task, followed by workers from such countries as Italy, France, Germany, and even Lebanon. American expatriates came to the island after 1898. Long after Spain had lost control of Puerto Rico, Spanish immigrants continued to arrive on the island. The most significant new immigrant population arrived in the 1960s, when thousands of Cubans fled from Fidel Castro's Communist state. The latest arrivals to Puerto Rico have come from the economically depressed Dominican Republic.
Spanish Inquisition left genetic legacy in Iberia
It's not often that cultural and religious persecution makes countries more diverse, but the Spanish Inquisition might have done just that.
One in five Spaniards and Portuguese has a Jewish ancestor, while a tenth of Iberians boast North African ancestors, finds new research.
This melting pot probably occurred after centuries of coexistence and tolerance among Muslims, Jews and Christians ended in 1492, when Catholic monarchs converted or expelled the Islamic population, called Moriscos. Sephardic Jews, whose Iberian roots extend to the first century AD, received much the same treatment.
© Janet Crain
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