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Dolores Prida dies at 69; chronicled Latino experience in the U.S.

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Dolores Prida, a writer who chronicled and illuminated Latino life in theaters, on opinion pages and in advice columns, has died. She was 69.

Prida died early Jan. 20 in New York after complaining of feeling ill on the way home from an anniversary party for a Latina professional group, said Hortensia Amaro, a friend.

Perhaps best known for her longtime "Dolores Dice" (Dolores Says) advice column in Latina magazine, the Cuban-born Prida also was a columnist for the New York Daily News and for El Diario/La Prensa, a Spanish-language daily in the city. She also wrote a string of plays and musicals.

Her work blended wit and commentary on Latinos' experience in the United States, whether her writing took the form of a play about generational conflicts among Latinas or an answer to a reader worried about buying a home because her husband was living in the country illegally.

"With conviction, compassion, and humor, Dolores used her gifts to connect with people across the Latino community and around our country," President Obama wrote in a letter to her sisters, Lourdes Diharce and Maria Aristizabal, who survive her. "Her words illuminated her vision for a fairer, more just America, and they helped unite others behind the future she knew was possible."

Born Sept. 5, 1943, in Caibarien, Cuba, Prida came to the United States with her family as a teenager and settled in New York. She worked at a bakery, attended Hunter College in New York and began working in Spanish-language journalism.

By the mid-1970s, she had become involved in theater. She went on to write several plays, often using both English and Spanish and focusing on the experience of women at a cultural crossroads.

"My intention as a writer is to explore, in many different ways, our being here," Prida said in a Repertorio Espanol profile. "Being from a different culture. Trying to fit in or not fit in. How other people see us, how we see ourselves."

Her plays included "Casa Propia," in which buying a home spotlights the differences between a Cuban woman and her husband; "Coser y Cantar" (To Sew and to Sing), a bilingual comedy about the inner cultural conflicts of a Latina, and "Botanica," which traces cultural and generational divides and connections among a Puerto Rican woman and her granddaughter. She also co-wrote "4 Guys Named Jose ... and Una Mujer Named Maria," a musical revue that ran off-Broadway and toured the country.

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