In a genetic study of 6,589 people from five Latin American countries, about a quarter displayed traces of what may be Sephardic Jewish ancestry:
Geneticist Juan-Camilo Chacón-Duque and his colleagues published their findings last week in Nature Communications magazine, in an article titled “Latin Americans show wide-spread Converso ancestry and imprint of local Native ancestry on physical appearance.”
Converso is the Spanish-language word for people who converted from Judaism to Christianity during the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal. Many conversos, or anusim in Hebrew, fled to Latin America.
Overall, converso genes account for only a small part of the ancestries of the study populations from each country, ranging from 1 percent in Brazil to 4% in Chile. The researchers used a set of DNA variations, or haplotypes, observed to be common among Jews with roots in the Iberian Peninsula.
But converso genes “are widespread,” Chacón-Duque told JTA.
Some 23% of the 6,589 people sampled showed some genes — or more than 5% of their ancestry — associated with Sephardic, East Mediterranean, or South Mediterranean ancestry, “probably stemming mostly from the clandestine colonial migration” of conversos, the researchers wrote.
“For every individual we characterized more than 600,000 genetic variants,” they said, “creating a dense genome-wide profile of genetic variation for each individual.”
The study is the most comprehensive of its kind in Latin America, but “it doesn’t represent the whole population” of the genetically diverse region and “has biases,” Chacón-Duque said.
While the study indicates that converso genes have spread far and wide in Latin America, he added, the research sample of fewer than 7,000 people “doesn’t necessarily mean that a quarter of Latin Americans have Sephardic genes.”
Although this article downplays the importance of this study, it makes complete sense. When the Jews were expelled from Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella, many of them got on ships and went to the New World, many settling in Latin America. In fact, many Jews and crypto-Jews were among Cortez and his conquistadors. Few White women were among these early settlers, so many of these “Spaniards” took native “wives” and this was the beginning of the mestizo or “mixed race” population in Latin America.
But, the “antisemite” asks, “If jewishness is just a “religious” identity, how does it show up on genetic tests?”
What is surprising about this study is that only 25% of latinos studied showed jewish genes. Given that Jews were inter-breeding with the Indians from the beginning would suggest that the actual number is far larger. But, of course, the Jews want to downplay the significance of this study because the last thing they want is 300 million latinos claiming Israeli birthright citizenship. But it does beg the question: is this jewish genetic marker what the Bible refers to as the “Mark of Cain”?