La Patria

In a talk given yesterday in Beijing, Argentine poet Juan Gelman stated that Spanish was his patria. Certainly not a novel idea, but an interesting one. Mi patria es la lengua. Gelman is a wonderful poet who in 2007 received the Cervantes Prize, sometimes referred to as the "Spanish Nobel". He has lived in exile for decades, ever since escaping the military dictatorships of the seventies that destroyed the Southern Cone countries. His son and daughter-in-law were disappeared by the Argentine and Uruguyan thugs, supported by the CIA, who had taken over their countries (Operation Condor). Years later Gelman became involved in a search to identify his granddaughter after he learned that his daughter-in-law had given birth in a military prision in Uruguay. After giving birth the young woman was brutally murdered and the baby was handed over to a retired Uruguayan policeman and his wife. In 2005 Gelman's granddaughter legally recovered her family name.
Gelman's comment got me wondering a bit. My patria? Friendship. Mi patria es la amistad. Friendship includes, of course, family. Some might have it the other way around: mi patria es la familia, and include friends as part of the family. But I prefer it this way because it's more expansive. The family as patria strikes me as too clannish. Country before friendship? Not a chance. (In the photo, Ana, Pili, and Asun at entrance to Calle Larios.)