Bolivian Blog Post (number four) – Mackie Moncure-Williams

An excellent source of information on Bolivian immigrant experiences is Tom Gjelten’s book, A Nation of Nations. In the second chapter of his book, Gjelten discusses a family who moved from Bolivia to the United States. Edu Alarcon states that it is her “drive”[i] that allowed her to make it to a better life. Coming from a poverty stricken and very rural area of Bolivia, Alarcon and her two friends arranged themselves go “to the nearest big city, Cochabamba, about sixty miles away.”[ii] Finding work there as house keepers, Edu and her friends were able to live on their own. When Edu was growing up “there was no school in her village, and at the age of fourteen she had not yet learned to read or write.”[iii] When her daughters first travelled to the United States in 1980, “only about sixty Bolivians visited the United States on an average day that year.”[iv] Coming to a country where they did not know anyone, spoke no English, and were very far away from home; Edu’s daughters (and herself later on) could have surely used some comfort. While seeing each other was an option every now and then, there was nothing compared to having a piece of home with them at all times.

One man who began a Bolivian newspaper in 1986 was Julio Duran. Stating that “every time he picked up a local paper looking for news about Latin America, he found himself reading about earthquakes, political coups, and cocaine trafficking,”[v] Duran wanted Latinos to have a more accurate view of Latin American politics, culture, and society. Duran named his newspaper Impacto, and he became successful even though he faced adversity for being foreign.[vi] Despite going through a difficult process of proving himself; Duran’s newspaper helped bring the Latino community together in the United States.

For Bolivian immigrants, newspapers like Impacto could really help them be more connected in the US with things going on in South America.

[i] Tom Gjelten, A Nation of Nations (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015), 20.

[ii] Gjelten, 21.

[iii] Gjelten, 20.

[iv] Gjelten, 23.

[v] Dianne Sanez, “Bolivian-Born Va. Man Starts Local Paper With a Latin Beat,” The Washington Post, December 11, 1986.

[vi] Ibid.

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