Pablo Bedrossian

Pablo Bedrossian from Honduras: ‘Armenians, Wherever We Meet, We Are a Family’

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By Artsvi Bakhchinyan

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

YEREVAN-SAN PEDRO SULA (HONDURAS) — Dear Pablo, this is the first time I meet an Armenian living in Honduras. Please introduce yourself.

My name is Pablo Bedrossian. I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and currently live in the second biggest city of Honduras, San Pedro Sula. My grandfather, Agop, was a heroic survivor of the Genocide. My grandmother, Loutfia, survived the massacres of Marash. I am a medical doctor (cardiologist), but after 13 years working as a physician, I decided to change my occupation and I worked as a senior manager in pharmaceutical companies, and have been doing it for 18 years. I studied business and got an MBA. A local company from Honduras, called Laboratorios Finlay, brought me to this country. Five years ago I started my own consulting company GO UP / Expertos en Negocios (www.goup-ca.com). I am married, with a daughter. I am a man of faith and my highest pleasure is reading and traveling around the world.

According to The Southern Side of the Earth: Armenians in Latin America From the Beginning to 1950 by Vartan Matiossian, already in 1929 the government of Honduras required $2,500 from different migrants, including Armenians. This means that the Armenian presence in Honduras might be already for 90 years. According to www.armeniadiaspora.com there are 900 Armenians in Honduras, but I doubt if this number is correct. What would you say?

I came to Honduras from my birthplace Argentina at the end of 2002. Since that moment I began to look for Armenians, but the search was very hard. I summarized my search in an article called “Los Armenios en Centroamérica” (“Armenians in Central America”), which was translated to English, French and Italian). I found the first reference in a magazine that talked about an old man, an owner of a restaurant – an American, but “half Armenian descendent”. Although he lived so far from my home, in 2006 I drove three hours to meet him. He felt touched when I said my last name. “Bedrossian is my mother’s family name too,” he said. When I went back in 2007, he had returned to United States. Also, Manolo Keosseian, a professional football (soccer) coach from Uruguay, lived in Honduras for a while for job reasons (in 2007 and 2019). Now he lives in Montevideo. Three years ago, a client of mine told me about another Argentinean Armenian, Adriana Keichian. She is married to a Honduran and is in charge of a school for special children. As you see, I could find very few Armenians in Honduras, most of them current immigrants.

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There is a family the last name of which is Gurdian. The first notice about them was found in the 19th-century in Nicaragua from where they spread to Costa Rica and a few to Honduras. Some members of this family consider themselves Armenians, but others believe they are Spanish. Nobody knows the real origin. Pablo Gurdian Bond in a thorough article supports that his family has come from Spain. I answered to him with another paper called “Las dos historias del apellido Gurdian” (“Two Stories About Gurdian Surname”). In my research, that includes interviews and mails interchange with several members of that family, I discovered a family story (with different variants) about three brothers that came from Armenia to Nicaragua in the 19th century. Also, the last name does not exist in Spain, but the Armenians have Kurdian. So, Gurdian family descendants might be Armenians: the mystery still remains.

We know there are many cities and towns in Central and Southern America named Armenia, including two in Honduras. Have you ever been there?

In Honduras there are more places called Armenia. When I published another paper called “Sitios de Centroamérica llamados Armenia” (“Places in Central America Called Armenia”), I found only two sites in Honduras and both with the same name: “Nueva Armenia” (“New Armenia”), one on the north coast and the other one in Francisco Morazán, in the middle of the country. Years ago, an Armenian guy sent me a message telling me that he visited an unknown place for me, Nueva Armenia, a small village in the Copan department, in the Western area of Honduras. Also, in Honduras there is a río Armenia (Armenia river) in Yoro department, as well as a small community called Armenia. I could never visit those places, but I visited Armenia in Sonsonate, El Salvador. Vartan Matiossian, the wonderful expert that you mentioned in the beginning, explained me the origin of those names: the Vulgata (the Bible translated to Latin by San Jerome), says “And the ark rested… upon the mountains of Armenia” instead of “Ararat”, the original word. Under the Spanish influence there was a tradition to choose biblical places to name cities and towns in America; that is the most probably reason of the name.

We know that the government of Azerbaijan make anti-Armenian propaganda in the countries with few Armenian population – did they do it also in Honduras?

The people in Honduras have a low education level. Most of them do not know about Azerbaijan, so we do not have this problem. Many of the most powerful families in Honduras came from Palestine; they arrived in the early 20th century. They are Christians, not Muslims. Here they are commonly called “Turks” because, under the splint of the empire, they arrived with a passport of Ottoman nationality. During the coup d’etát of 2009 I took a picture of a curious graffiti with the message “Turcos genocidas” (“genocidal Turks”), not with our meaning of course.

Have you or the others made any efforts in introducing Armenia in Honduras?

Topics: Honduras

Yes. I have published articles and sent books as gifts about Armenians telling the tough story of the Genocide. The common people do not know about it. Carlos Antaramian, another great expert, author of the book “Del Ararat al Popocatépetl: los armenios en México” (“From Ararat to Popocatépetl: Armenians in Mexico”) wrote me about the interest of the new Armenian ambassador in Mexico (who is in charge of Central America region too) to visit us in the future. It would be an excellent opportunity to present Armenia and his history to Honduran people.

What would you say about the Armenians in the bordering countries of Honduras – Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua?

The situation about Armenians in those countries is very similar to Honduras. There are very few; most of them were born in other countries. For example, Samuel Berberian, who was born in Athens and raised in Argentina, was dean of Theology Faculty of Universidad Panamericana of Guatemala. Also Edgardo Surenian, an evangelical pastor from Argentina, spent few years in El Salvador.

I am sure you are in touch with the Armenians in Argentina – what about Armenia and other communities?

I am! Just few days ago, I visited San Lazzaro, the Armenian island in Venice. There I met father Hamazasp Kechichian. In 2018 I met P. Mesrob Lakissian, the priest from the Saint Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of New York. Also, in 2019 I visited the Armenian Cathedral in Moscow and the Armenian Church in Paris. Wherever I travel I try to find Armenians. One of the most interesting experiences was my visit in 1990 to Krikor Der Balian, in Swaziland, a small African country. Krikor has built a small Armenian Church in his land. The Armenians, wherever we meet, we are a family!

Well, Pablo, thanks… and I hope your next trip will be Armenia!

 

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