There are many lost chapters in history. This is one of them.
During World War II, Latin American countries deported more than 2,000 ethnic Japanese to the United States, where they were detained in internment camps alongside Japanese-Americans. The deportations were initiated by Washington at a conference on regional security in 1942. Officially, the reason for the deportations was protection from internal sabotage. But racism against the Japanese in Latin America was also a factor.
Of the 2000 deportees, 1800 came from Peru. One family that owned an import/export business in the Peruvian city of Arequipa was deported to a camp in Crystal City, Texas. They wouldn’t return to Peru for another four years.
Reporter Mia Warren recorded their story. For this week’s sabiduría, or words of wisdom, she spoke with Carmen Utako Tochio Villanueva (in the picture), a woman who was born in the internment camp.
Photo Santa Anita Camp, 1942 courtesy of Wikipedia Commons, author unknown.
Mia Warren is a Fulbright Research Fellow living in Lima, Peru and studying the Japanese Peruvian community.