Russians and Argentinians – related?!?

This is the story of how the Baintrub family met the Basin family for the first time in 1989 in Riga, Latvia and continued to stay in touch throughout the years.  The lineage below may have some errors and most names I do not know and for that, I am sorry.

Many moons ago, at the beginning of the 20th Century (and for the rest of that century), the situation for the Russian Jews in Russia was extremely difficult, filled with anti-semitism and severe discrimination.  My maternal grandmother’s (Maryanna) great aunt immigrated to Argentina because at that time that was the only country that was accepting such refugees.   The aunt that immigrated to Argentina, left her sister behind in Russia and the two stayed in touch over the years which allowed for some connection to be established for our Argentinian family to find us 65+ years later.

The sister that immigrated to Argentina had a child (Jaime) who is my grandmother’s cousin. When he learned of the family still living in Siberia (his cousin; my grandmother) and with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, he decided that it was time to travel to Riga, Latvia (where my family lived) to meet the Russians.  My grandparents traveled from Siberia and Jaime from Argentina and for the first time, the two families were able to meet.

From Left: Granda Leva, Grandma Maryanna and Jaime

Jaime and his wife Carmen came to Riga, Latvia in 1989.   As they did not speak Russian and we did not speak English, with the help of a translator and my mothers bare bone English, we were able to communicate and formed a life long friendship.  After this visit, Jaime and Carmen invited my parents to Buenos Aires (1990) and for the first time in their life, my parents left on a 3 week vacation to Argentina while my sister and I stayed with our grandparents.

the tiny cutie behind grandpa Leva is yours truly!

Twenty-five years later and my dad still can’t stop talking about how wonderful Jaime, Carmen and their son Martin (and the rest of the family that they met) have been to them.   Jaime took my parents everywhere including to their summer home in Punta Del Este, Uruguay.  My parents were in “awe” by the beautiful surroundings and the food filled shelves at the supermarket (you have to remember that we came from the Soviet Union where there was no food on the shelves).

At this time, my parents were trying to make their own decision if we were going to immigrate to Israel, Argentina or US as living in Riga has become unbearable for the Jewish population. Jaime showed my dad the unemployment line in Buenos Aires and just like that the decision was made to go to the US (Israel stopped being an option when we found out that both my sister and I would have to join the Israeli army and if you read anything about my camping abilities, we all know that Israeli army would have been a bad idea).

At the end of 1994, my family immigrated to California with the help of my maternal grandmother’s relatives.  In 2000, as we became more established and learned to speak English, we invited Jaime and Carmen to come to San Francisco for my sister’s wedding.   They were so incredibly happy how much life has changed for us from the limited opportunities in Riga, Latvia to the beautiful life in California.  I loved spending time with Carmen and Jaime.  I promised myself that I would go to Argentina one day and visit Jaime and meet the rest of the family.

lighting “visitor candles” at my sisters wedding circa 2000

Unfortunately, in the summer of 2013, Jaime passed away.  However, I still wanted to come to Argentina to see Carmen and to meet everyone else. Over the years, I have stayed in touch with Martin (their son) via Facebook and I have let him know that I would be traveling to S. America in 2014.  Martin, kindly offered for Kieran and I to stay in Carmen’s apartment and we had a lovely dinner together (Argentinian BBQ) before they took off for their summer vacation.  And just like 25 years ago, when Jaime invited my parents to his summer home in Uruguay, Martin invited us to Uruguay in January, which we gladly accepted.

Martin making delicious BBQ


Myself, Martin and his wife Sandra

It’s awesome to see this 100+ year family history live on through numerous wars and here is hoping for more frequent reunions!

  • Martin

    Very nice story, one family, three countries, one hundred years.

  • A&G

    Thank you for this story! It is a great memory that we always have in our hearts with thankfulness and love. You just forgot one exceptional moment that Jaime and Carmen also came to US to see us next year after we arrived to US! They just wanted to make sure that we settled ok and supported us in such a not easy time of our life!

    • Alina Basina

      oh yeah, for some reason I do not remember that at all!

  • Jose Angel

    I just have a word for this… MARAVILLOSO!! Estoy conmovido!

    • Alina Basina


  • What a great story! I’m so happy you were able to follow up and visit your relatives in Argentina!

    • Alina Basina

      Thanks 🙂