Sunday, 4 November 2007

Wales - Patagonia Link- ups

Patagonia town wants Aber 'twin'

Esquel in Patagonia

Esquel stages an eisteddfod each year and Welsh is spoken

A town in Argentina where Welsh immigrants set up home 100 years ago wants to be twinned with Aberystwyth.

Rafael Williams, mayor of Esquel in Patagonia, some 1,200 miles (2,000kms) south of Buenos Aires, said the merger would bring benefits to both areas.

The green and fertile land around Esquel attracted the Welsh who had initially settled in a dry and arid area unsuitable for farming.

Lorrae Jones-Southgate, mayor of Aberystwyth, said it was an "honour".

In 1865 the first settlers travelled more than 8,000 miles from Wales to South America looking for a brighter future.

But it was not until later that the descendants of the early settlers set up home in and around Esquel.


Argentine and Welsh flags

A town in the foothills of the Andes

With a population of 35,000 it is more than twice the size of Aberystwyth

The Welsh initially settled in Trevelin, about 14 miles away

Its valley is made up of some sheep and cattle farms

It is a centre for adventure holidays and has a ski resort nearby

A century on and the town still has a thriving Welsh community.

It stages an annual eisteddfod, it has choirs and a Welsh-speaking community, although Spanish is now the main language.

It already has links with Aberystwyth through the Welsh Books Council and the Glaniad website, which provides details about Welsh people who settled in Patagonia.

Esquel's mayor Mr Williams said: "In Esquel, we are very proud of our Welsh heritage and we have been examining ways in which we could take action to support the March accord signed between our province and..Wales.

"With the existing connections we have with the town via the Glaniad website and with the work being done through the Welsh Books Council, appears that Aberystwyth would be the perfect town to twin with Esquel."

Aberystwyth mayor Ms Jones-Southgate said: "It (Esquel) is the most beautiful area with Welsh choirs and an eisteddfod, everything that we hold dear in our culture.

"I think it's an honour that Esquel has chosen Aberystwyth as a potential twin and I think it would bring all sorts of benefits to both areas."

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