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Italian immigration to Mexico


Italian immigration to Mexico

Italian Mexican
Jared Borgetti
Total population

6,605 Italian nationals residing in Mexico (2012)[1]

est. 85,000 Mexicans of Italian descent (2012)[2]
Regions with significant populations
Puebla · Mexico City · Veracruz · San Luis Potosi
Mexican Spanish · Italian · Chipileño
Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Italian diaspora

An Italian-Mexican or Italo-Mexican (Spanish: italo-mexicano, Italian: italo-messicano) is a Mexican citizen of Italian descent or origin. Most people of Italian ancestry living in Mexico arrived in the late 19th century, and have become generally assimilated into mainstream society.


  • History 1
  • Society 2
  • Italian Community 3
  • Derived Italian languages 4
  • Notable Italo-Mexicans 5
    • Athletics 5.1
    • Artist 5.2
    • Entertainment 5.3
    • Literature 5.4
    • Politics 5.5
    • Science 5.6
    • Miscellaneous 5.7
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Italo-Mexican identity rests on the common experience of migration from Italy in the late 19th century, a period characterized by a more general Italian diaspora to the Americas (under the pressures of economic transformation and the process of unification into a nation-state in 1871), and the establishment of communities, primarily in central and eastern Mexico. Only about 13,000 Italians emigrated to Mexico during this period,[3] and at least half of them subsequently returned to Italy or went on to the United States.[4] Most Italians coming to Mexico were farmers or farm workers from the northern districts. Most of these immigrants were from northern Italy, especially from the regions of Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, and Lombardy. Others arriving in the early 19th century included many from Southern Italy. Significant numbers of Italian settlers arriving in the late 19th and early 20th centuries received land grants from the Mexican government. When Benito Mussolini came to power, thousands of Italian families left Italy for Mexico.

Italian community of Monterrey in 1905.

Today, many Italo-Mexicans continue to reside in towns founded by their ancestors. Among these is Chipilo, in the state of Puebla, where a derivative of the Venetian dialect is still spoken by its residents. Other towns founded by Italian immigrants lie in the states of Veracruz (Huatusco), San Luis Potosí, and the Mexican Federal District. In the state of Aguascalientes there is a large population of Mexicans of Italian descent - the result of the invasion of the French and the creation of the Second Mexican Empire. Smaller, but also notable, numbers of Italo-Mexicans can be found in Guanajuato, Estado de Mexico, and in the towns of Nueva Italia and Lombardia in the state of Michoacán, which were founded by wealthy Italians who immigrated to Mexico after the 1880 diaspora and established large agricultural estates known as haciendas. Playa del Carmen in the state of Quintana Roo has also received a notable number of immigrants from Italy.

At present, the regions with the highest concentration of Mexican Italians are Mexico City, Monterrey, Puebla, and Veracruz.


Entrance to the Italian section of the Panteón de Dolores in Mexico City.

Although many Italo-Mexicans now live in urban centers such as Mexico City and Monterrey, many others live in, and strongly identify with, one of the original or spin-off communities that are almost entirely of Italian origin. These individuals still stridently claim an Italian ethnic identity (at least to a non-Mexican outsider), but generally note that they are Mexican as well. In 1995, there were an estimated 30,000 Mexican descendants of the original Italian colonies.[5] The absolute Italian-descended population, however, is uncertain due to the national census not gathering information on any specific ethnicity, as is done in other countries. Despite this, Italian surnames are not uncommon in parts of Mexico.

The majority of Italian Mexicans speak Spanish, but in Italian communities derived Italian languages (usually mixed with Spanish) are used to communicate among themselves.

Italian Community

The Italian Feast of Befana in Chipilo, Puebla.

Today, many Italian-Mexicans continue to live in the cities founded by their ancestors. Other cities founded by Italian immigrants in the states of Veracruz (Huatusco), San Luis Potosí.

Smaller numbers of Italian-Mexicans are in Guanajuato, Edomex, and the ex-Haciendas (now cities) of Nueva Italia, Michoacán and Lombardia, Michoacán; both founded by Don Dante Cusi originating Gambar, Brescia, and subsequently inhabited by followers of Don Dante who emigrated from Italy (who helped with the farm work and highly specialized advanced at the time, along with the locals).

Today the management of Michoacán by Cusi remains the object of study in English universities. Playa del Carmen Mahahual and Cancun in the state of Quintana Roo has also received a significant number of immigrants from Italy. Several families of Italian-Mexican descent were granted citizenship in the United States during the Bracero Program (which lasted from 1947 to 1964) to make up for a shortage of labor. One notable family of this emigration include the Juan Donato Family, who settled in the city of Santa Cruz in Central California from the state of Guanajuato.

The vast majority of Italian-Mexicans have achieved a high social status in the Mexican society today. One of the best known is Daniel Mastretta, creator of the first sports car made and designed in Mexico industrially: the Mastretta MXT.

Monument in San Pedro Garza García commemorating the Italian presence in Nuevo León.

Recent Italian investment and business ventures in Mexico have developed, primarily in tourism and hospitality, sometimes resulting in settlement primarily in the resort locations of the Riviera Maya, Baja California, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. They have acquired and generated sources of employment, restaurants, hotels and entertainment centers; however, most have not become permanent residents of Mexico and live primarily as ex-pats.

Derived Italian languages

Since most Italian immigration occurred by way of the establishment of colonies, derivatives of Italian languages exist in Mexico. Besides the best known Chipilo Venetian dialect, derivatives of the Venetian language may also exist in Huatusco and Colonia Gonzalez, Veracruz.

To this we can also add other Italian immigrant languages and dialects:

Notable Italo-Mexicans







  • Arcangel Constantini, contemporary artist,hardware hacker working with science and technology .
  • Rodolfo Neri Vela, Engineer and astronaut.
  • Adolfo Gilly, author, professor of History and Political Science.


See also


  1. ^ "International Migration Database". OECD. Retrieved 14 June 2015. Country of origin: Italy, Variable: Stock of foreign population by nationality 
  2. ^ "Episodio 10: Italianos".  
  3. ^ [2] Italian stadistics 2009
  4. ^ Italian Mexicans Orientation
  5. ^ "Italian-Mexicans". Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Volume 8: Mesoamerican and the Caribbean. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 

External links

  • Los que llegaron - Italianos from Canal Once (In Spanish)
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