As Argentine President Mauricio Macri encouraged an international trade deal between South American Mercosur and the European Union last week in Europe, he boldly asserted, that “the association between Mercosur and the European Union is natural because in South America, we’re all descendants of Europeans.”
Last week, Argentine fact-checker Chequeado looked into Macri’s statement to see how true it was. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.
While most of Argentina’s population is certainly of European descent, it’s definitely not all since 7.3 percent of Argentina’s population is of African, indigenous, or other Latin American descent.
Chequeado points out that in recent years, immigration in Argentina has gone down significantly, which is why so many Argentines descend from Europeans.
As you can see, the percentage of immigrants from bordering countries has remained relatively steady over time, but in the second half of 20th century European immigration dropped significantly.
As a result total immigration is just lower so people from other Latin American countries that come to Argentina comprise a larger percentage of immigrants today. Since the majority of Argentina’s immigration that happened between 1870 and 1914 brought huge waves of Spanish and Italian immigration, it’s correct to say that the vast majority of Argentines are of European descent.
While Chequeado only investigated the veracity of Macri’s claims in regards to Argentina, his assertion was about all of South America.
According to the CIA World Factbook, here’s the demographic breakdown by country. As you can see, South America is so diverse that each country has its own specific names for different racial and ethnic groups.
So yes, Macri was off the mark when said that all South Americans descend from Europe.
The claim sparked outrage among some locals, who accused the President of perpetuating anti-indigenous rhetoric and policy (former Argentine ambassador in the UK Alicia Castro even accused him of white supremacy.)
“En Sudamérica todos somos descendientes de europeos”, dijo Macri.
Ahí lo tienen, negando a los pueblos originarios.
La campaña anti-indígena del gobierno siempre presente.
— Pino Solanas (@fernandosolanas) January 25, 2018
Macri es la expresión de la Gran Supremacía Blanca: “En Sudamerica TODOS somos descendientes de europeos” Para nuestros pueblos originarios? La ignorancia, el desdén y las balas de @PatoBullrich https://t.co/nr5ftGhev2
— Alicia Castro (@AliciaCastroAR) January 25, 2018