Latinos who allow the United States to function in a time of pandemic



Employees of gas stations, supermarkets, laundries, home delivery or mechanics, the Latino community occupies many of the key positions that allow the United States to continue operating at its worst, with more than a million people infected by the coronavirus and 68,000 deceased, despite the fact that the Government of Donald Trump denies them on countless occasions roles and aid.

Efe gives voice to seven workers from New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Vernon and Maryland to attest that Latinos are still at the foot of the canyon in these hard times and, in the face of rising unemployment, give "thank God" for continuing with health, being able to feed their families and, very important for them, "serving the community".

They currently live in the U.S. some 60 million Latinos and are already about 20% of the population. A study by the Pew Research Center ensures that 27.5 million workers in the country are Latino and, according to its director of Global Migration, Mark Hugo López, "they are those who have jobs that are more at risk of being lost than those of other groups of Americans, but not overwhelmingly. "

Hundreds of thousands of them, such as the so-called "dreamers" and DACA beneficiaries (immigrants who came as children without proper documentation), are "essential" infrastructure workers, as recognized by the Department of Homeland Security: "They are necessary to maintain the services and functions that Americans depend on on a daily basis and to be able to operate resiliently during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. "

Latino workers say they sometimes feel more "disposable than essential", they fight to achieve their "dreams" in a country they love but without forgetting its roots.

Below, seven representative workers from the Latino community explain their experiences and feelings in these hard times:

ABRAHAM BELLO: MECHANIC BY DAY, REVERENDING IN THE AFTERNOON

Abraham Bello is a peculiar mechanic. This Mexican from Acapulco, 47, has 23 in the United States. He has a small workshop in Harrison, in the New York county of Westchester, and a few meters away, in the neighboring town of Mamaroneck, he is pastor of the Bethel House of God Pentecostal Church.

During the day he fixes cars and some afternoons and weekends he gives prayer to his faithful, now on the Internet due to the coronavirus.

When the state of alarm was decreed, he opted to close a couple of weeks, but already days ago the blind for the scheduled appointments went up again: "It is not out of necessity, but because people in essential jobs must fix their cars."

Mechanics like him allow doctors, supermarket staff or transporters, many of them Latinos too, to continue working to keep a country of which he is "proud" and in which one of his two daughters was born.

He is clear: "The Latino has helped the economy to grow because most of us who come from Spanish-speaking countries are working people, who have come only to give to the economy of this country, here each with their ideas and the we put together so that this country develops more. "

In addition to helping progress in difficult times, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, he officiates "the word of God" through Webex, the program installed by one of his daughters to continue explaining, from home and through the Internet, the teachings of the Bible to your community of parishioners.

CLAUDIA GARCÍA: A VERY LATINO "DELIVERY"

Another essential service that is part of the culture of the USA. It is the "delivery", the delivery of meals at home. Claudia García, a 42-year-old Salvadoran well knows it. Deliver meals at home with DoorDash, a service similar to Uber Eats, and in which he calculates that, in his area of ​​Maryland, more than 30% of delivery people are Latino.

In a stop between Ellicott City and Columbia, Claudia explains her satisfaction at being able to continue working - she has hours of up to 10 hours -, fulfill her commitments and continue helping her family after losing her receptionist job. "All Latinos come to this country to fulfill our dreams and our goals (...) with the confidence of God we are going to continue." With higher studies in Business Administration, Claudia has been in the United States for two years and says she is seeking keep your mind "clear of worries". His motto is: "As long as there is life, there is hope."

TAVERAS FAMILY: A "LAUNDRY" AT THE SERVICE OF THE COMMUNITY

Ismael Taveras, his brother Julio and sister-in-law Nancy Cruz run a laundry in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. The three Dominicans passed the coronavirus and even Julio, 67, who has been a legal resident of the United States for 10 years, had to be admitted to the hospital for almost two weeks.

But they did not doubt it. They pulled out weak forces and reopened their "laundry" as soon as they could, an establishment that they manage as a "service to the community."

Nancy, 55, is very concerned that everyone respects the rules of social distance and has prohibited being able to fold clothes on the premises so that people do not accumulate: "We Hispanics do not follow the rules, I sent them to six feet and do not want. Americans do, but Hispanics do not respect the law. And if the police come by and see us, they can shut us down. "

Before they opened from seven in the morning to eleven at night. Now half the time, from eight to five in the afternoon. Every day they disinfect the premises and the machines with Lysol. "We are entering 50% and there are days that much less, because at night it was when we did the bulk," regrets Ismael, who is studying requesting help from the government due to the high costs of electricity, water and gas bills.

But for the Taveras brothers the most important thing is that they are offering help to the community: "People need to do laundry and we need to earn money, we receive something that helps us but at the same time we offer a service; we try to serve people even though let's sacrifice part of our time and despite being convalescent. "

HILDA MORALES: "INSTEAD OF ESSENTIALS, WE FEEL DISPOSABLE"

Hilda Morales has been working for a company that packages food dishes for large stores and restaurants for 20 years, when she arrived in Vernon (California), one of the least populated towns in the country, from Mexico.

"We are disappointed: instead of essential, we feel disposable," says Morales, recalling that one of his colleagues recently died of the coronavirus.

The Mexican, who is the representative of the Union of United Workers of the Food Industry and Commerce (UFCW), asks the company she works for to provide them with the necessary protection material and to provide them tests to detect COVID-19 to prevent more deaths.

KENYA GÓMEZ: IN THE DAILY BATTLE AGAINST VIRUSES

The health sector in the country is saturated and the Cuban Kenia Gómez is one of the professionals who is at the forefront of the "daily battle" against the coronavirus.

The laboratory technique, which performs phlebotomy on all types of patients, including those affected by COVID-19, has a ritual when returning home from work to reduce the risk of contagion for their three children and her husband, who is also working during the pandemic.

With schools closed, this San Diego-based couple has had to face another cost during the health crisis: hiring a full-time babysitter to watch their children and help them with school tasks.

JULIÁN ARGUAYO: HIS WORK FEEDS THE POPULATION

A native of Bakersfield, a largely farming community north of Los Angeles, Julián Arguayo works at a Hollywood supermarket as a restocker for products on the shelves.

"Working during a pandemic can be difficult and challenging, but I protect myself with a mask, use antibacterial gel and go very carefully with my surroundings. (?) Sometimes it is scary, but I try to always be positive," says Arguayo, whose family has Mexican roots.

What is clear to Arguayo, who is part of the Union of United Workers of the Food Industry and Commerce, such as Morales, is that without his work and that of his colleagues in the supermarket "front line" the population could not feed during the pandemic.

LUIS MENCHACA: "WE ARE GOING TO DO WHAT WE HAVE TO DO"

Luis, born in California but with a Mexican and Puerto Rican family, works these days nine hours a day at a Chevron service station located between Los Angeles and San Diego.

Protected with a cloth mask, which looks homemade, and plastic gloves, Luis attends dozens of people who refuel their vehicles and enter the parking lot in search of a snack or refreshing drink to continue their journeys.

"I have no problem (working during the pandemic). Because, you know: people with a strong professional ethic are going to come to work and we are going to do what we have to do," says Luis, who wears several chains and a cap black in color, even though the thermometer exceeds 30 degrees centigrade.

What you don't see is the confinement regulations, at both the national and state levels. "They made it mandatory that only essential workers could work; that was not the correct way to do it. They could have closed sections of the city little by little, for example," the 26-year-old analyzes.

For him, coronavirus mortality is not "so serious" as to stop the economy, as it affects thousands of Latino families around the country. But they all fight every day for their livelihoods and to help the United States move forward. They also deserve applause.

Carles Escolà and Alex Segura

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