Croatian Diaspora in Argentina

Number of Croats and their immigration

It is not possible to determine the exact number of Croats and their descendants who live in Argentina today, but approximate number would be around 250,000 members of Croatian community.
Croats started settling in Argentina in a large number after 1848 and the number was steadily growing until 1918.
It should be mentioned that Croats started coming to this region individually as early as mid 18th century. First historical records mention the Jesuit Nikolu Plantić born in Zagreb in 1720 who came to this region in 1748. Besides other activities he performed, he was a professor of logic at the Jesuit   University in Cordoba, the town 700 km far away from Buenos Aires, and before the Jesuits were expelled  from South America in 1768 he was a rector of Colegio Nacional in Buenos Aires.

One of the first Croatian settlers was Buratović, building contractor  from the island of Hvar. From 1860 he was building roads, railways, houses in Argentina and he was the first to  build a  telegraph network between Buenos Aires and Rosario. He brought a large group of people from Hvar to Argentina, and other immigrants from Dalmatia followed suit.Also, Croats from Istria, Slavonia and Primorje immigrated at that time.
The second wave of immigration, much larger than the first one, occurred between WWI and WWII, i.e. between 1918 and 1939. Croats from coastal regions were the most numerous, but there were also immigrants from Banija, Lika, Kordun, Slavonia, Srijem, Herzegovina and northern Bosnia.

However, in the first and second wave of immigration Croats were registered not only as Croats but also as Austians, Hungarians, Slavs, Dalmatians, Yugoslavians, which reflected the situation of their native country at that time. Regardless of this, in 1939 there were around 150,000 Croats living in 133 settlements.

The third and last wave was after WWII between 1945 and 1956 when around 20,000 Croats came to Argentina. They were political emigrants. Friar Blaž Štefanić, who came to Argentina in 1939 as a missionary, helped Croats to emigrate. At the initiative from Rome, in 1946 he started  helping immigrants from Austria, Germany and Italy. It was then that Juan Domingo Peron, the president of Argentina agreed with the immigration authorities to give permission for 35,000 Croats to enter the country.

Legal Status of Croats in Argentina

Croats who hold Argentinian citizenship have equal rights and responsibilities as other Argentinian citizens. There are no time restrictions imposed regarding residence in Argentina  in order to acquire citizenship, which means that an application for citizenship can be submitted upon arrival to Argentina.  Argentina allows a person to have a dual citizenship.
There are Croats in Argentina today who occupy very important social positions. It should be mentioned that Croatian descendants are still not so integrated into the society as in other countries of Latin America. There is a strong feeling of belonging to Croatian people. Croatian immigrants and their descendants contributed to a large extent to the development of this country and the members of their community are considered hard-working and honest people. For this reason, individuals as well as the community received numerous awards by Argentinian state bodies.

Croatian Associations and Catholic Missions

Numerous cultural associations play an important role in the Croatian communities both in Buenos Aires and in other cities in Argentina. Folklore ensembles are especially numerous.
Most  Croatian societies are located in Buenos Aires area but they also exist in more than 20 Argentinian cities.
Directorate of the Spiritual Care of Croatian Catholic mission is based in Buenos Aires. Catholic centres “Sv. Leopold Mandić”and “Sv. Nikola Tavelić” are the main places where cultural events are held.
“Hrvatski Caritas Kardinal Stepinac“ has a long history  in Buenos Aires -  almost 55 years.
It is a voluntary organization that provides financial help for immigrants and their descendants who are not so well-off or live on their own.

Croatian Classes and Programs in the Croatian Language

Croatian classes, within the competence of the Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Croatia, are taught by a teacher in Buenos Aires at two places - Centro Juvenil Argentino-Croata and Circulo Croata.  Croatian supplementary schools are organized at Catholic centres “Sv. Leopold Mandić”and “Sv. Nikola Tavelić” as well as in town of Rosario and Cordoba. In addition, Croatian language courses are occasionally organized in the Croatian clubs in Buenos Aires.
Exchange programmes of the Croatian language and literature within the competence of the Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Croatia are held at:
  • Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires
  • Universidad nacional de Rosario, Rosario
Publishing and Media

Croats developed significant publishing activity immediately upon arrival to this country but this activity has decreased over years as the number of Croats who emigrated to this country fell substantially at the end of the fifties of the last century. Therefore, publishing of the journal “Studia Croatica“ is of great importance. It has been published in Buenos Aires for more than five decades and numerous cultural institutions in the world receive this journal. “Studia Croatica“ today has the largest Croatian website in Spanish. The low circulation magazines “Tjednik and “El Croata Errante“ are occasionally published in Buenos Aires.

The radio programme ”Hrvatska u mom srcu“ in Croatian and Spanish is broadcast every Sunday  from a studio in Buenos Aires. In addition, there are radio programmes Croacias Totales“ and “Hrvatski radio sat“ as well as “Bar Croata“ broadcast from Rosario.