Editor's Letter

Editor's Letter: Bilingual Bridges

By June Carolyn Erlick

It was snowing heavily in New York. It didn’t matter much to me. I was in sunny Santo Domingo with my New York Dominican neighbors on the Christmas break from school. I learned Spanish from them and also at the local bodega, where the shop owner insisted I ask for “leche” and not for “milk.” My neighbors had been exiles from the Trujillo dictatorship, and they now had begun to return to their homeland for the holidays. In Santo Domingo, their families were solidly middle-class; in New York, they worked in factories and as janitors. That’s how I found...

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Editor's Letter: Hooked Once Again

By June Carolyn Erlick


As I think back on our conversation, I hear myself babbling about telenovelas. First it was reminiscing about how Sandinista Nicaragua had come to a total standstill every night during La Esclava Isaura (the Slave Isaura). And then about how the telenovela Cafe con Aroma de Mujer (Co ee with the Scent of a Woman) had sparked an innovative tourist industry in Colombia’s lush co ee-growing region. And then I breathlessly charged on to talking about how I got hooked on Betty la Fea, and how even though I and a lot of my...

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Editor's Letter: The Diversity of Beauty

by June Carolyn Erlick

I remember so vividly the first time someone called me “gordita.” It was while I traveled on a clumsily converted cattle boat pitching in the waves from Cuba to Canada in 1970. I was seasick all the time. Yet I remember the emotion of shock at that word more than I recall how I felt about my sickness. Of course, I know now that the Cuban who called me “gordita” meant “my little pleasantly plump friend” and probably wanted to console me. I heard “fatty.” I cried.

Ironically, I’ve always felt a bit more in home in Latin...

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Editor's Letter: Not a Matter of Statistics


The sweet pure tones of a violin emanated through my grade school auditorium. Ten-year- old Florika, a refugee after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, was turning the warmth of once- living wood into a powerful source of communication. Florika spoke no English. The strains of the music she played—a classical piece whose name I do not remember—still linger with me. So does the anger I felt in my rst awareness of displacement: how could our classmate, who could not even say “good morning” to...

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Editor's Letter: Questions and Answers (sort of)

By June Carolyn Erlick


I’m about to go out to lunch with some friends from Washington (yes, the Venezuelan  place again). I just know they will ask me what the next issue of ReVista is. My friends and colleagues are used to hearing about offbeat themes: garbage, sports, the Internet, the sky above and the earth below, natural disasters.

Sometimes I get asked how I get my ideas. I tell them about my long list. Some ideas come from things I read; some come from talks or news events; some come from readers;...

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Editor's Letter: Beauty and Bullets

By June Carolyn Erlick

I had forgotten how beautiful El Salvador is. The fragrance of ripening rose apples mixed with the tropical breeze. A mockingbird sang off in the distance. Flowers were everywhere: roses, orchids, sunflowers, bougainvillea and the creamy white izote flower—all against the hovering presence of the majestic San Salvador volcano.

I had forgotten how hospitable Salvadorans are. On my most recent trip in November 2015, the lapping of the ocean and the sea breeze at La Libertad an hour from the capital revived...

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Editor's Letter: Energy

By June Carolyn Erlick

I was waiting for the ship to come in. In fact, so was everyone else in Nicaragua. Gas lines stretched around the block. The supermarket shelves were nearly bare. Lights went out again and again, plunging the country into frequent darkness. Telex machines couldn’t work, and we reporters had to depend on the few places with generators to file our stories (for younger readers, this was pre-computer and smart phones). U.S. President Ronald Reagan had imposed a trade blockade on Nicaragua in May 1985. The Soviets were sending oil, dodging the...

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Editor's Letter: Territory Guarani

By June Carolyn Erlick 

DRCLAS receptions are bustling affairs, sparkling with ample liquor, Latin American tidbits and compelling conversations. It was at one of these receptions that Jorge Silvetti and Graciela Silvestri first approached me casually regarding an issue about the Guarani.

Reception over, I tried to conjure up everything I knew about the subject. Not much. In ReVista’s Fall 2011 issue on Bolivia, Marcia Mandepora, the rector of the UNIBOL-Guarani “Apiaguaiki Tüpa” in Machareti, had written an...

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Editor's Letter: Beyond Waste

By June Carolyn Erlick 

Everyone in Bogotá was talking trash that Christmas season. Pure garbage.  

The streets—at least most of them—had just been cleared of the bags and bags of trash that had lingered on the sidewalks for days, but the smells lingered in the air. My friend Adriana whipped out her Smartphone to show me what the city had looked like a couple of days before. “He ought to be thrown out,” she snarled, referring to Bogotá’s Mayor Gustavo Petro, who had sparked the garbage fiasco by switching garbage collection from a private to a...

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Editor's Letter: Transformations

By June Carolyn Erlick 

I’m long past the point of being a tourist in Peru, although I’ve never lived there. I first arrived by bus in 1977 on an Inter American Press Association fellowship and I’ve been going back ever since. I’ve explored its cities, mountains, jungles, lakes and beaches, been invited to countless hospitable homes, been robbed twice, enjoyed its ceviche and pinchos and, of course, its pisco. I’ve bought way too many handicrafts—the cornucopia of carved gourds, alpaca sweaters, intricate woodcarvings and a host of other...

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Editor's Letter: Food in the Americas

By June Carolyn Erlick

As a correspondent in Latin America for 14 years, I covered revolutions, elections, hurricanes, and a wide variety of other events. Yet, the single story that produced the most reaction was an op-ed feature for the Wall Street Journal describing how I learned to cook amidst the scarcity of Sandinista Nicaragua. Somehow the travails of bartering canned goods for live ducks and innovating sauces from abundant mangos managed to bring Nicaragua's daily realities home to a public tired about reading about war. Yet, many of my readers observed...

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Editor's Letter: Art in the Americas

By June Carolyn Erlick

This editor's letter is not an editor's letter. And even though what you are reading is online under the name ReVista, the Harvard Review of Latin America, it's really DRCLASNEWS, the predecessor to ReVista.

My editor's letters started formally in September 2001 when DRCLASNEWS officially changed its name. The publication started in 1997 as a 16-page themed newsletter and grew into a three-times a year magazine on Latin America long before the official name change. ...

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Editor's Letter: Reflecting on Organized Crime

By June Carolyn Erlick

The couple had fled their Salvadoran homeland to North Carolina during the brutal war of the 1980s. They learned English, worked hard, started a successful business and became U.S. citizens. They sent money back home monthly, although not much of late because of the recession. Their Salvadoran relatives had also created a thriving grocery store in their medium-sized city. But now these relatives were desperate to come to the United...

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Editor's Letter

By June Carolyn Erlick   

You are holding in your hands the first issue of ReVista, formerly known as DRCLAS NEWS.

Over the last couple of years, DRCLAS NEWS has examined different Latin American themes in depth. Topics have included art, women, immigration, Latin@s, food, health, Cuba, social policy, the Internet, environment, education, and economy. And increasingly, readers had been asking, “How can you call something with such substance a newsletter? And how do you pronounce that name...

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