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Florida farmworkers need real protections amid pandemic, not just an apology

HOMESTEAD, FL – After Coronavirus positive cases increased at alarming levels among farmworker communities throughout Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis blamed them publicly causing strong reactions from community leaders and farmworker advocacy groups demanding an apology.

In a video provided to Latina Comunica by American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the organization says that, more than an apology, farmworkers need real protections.

Guadalupe de la Cruz from American Friends Service Committee in Homestead, FL

AFSC is demanding the state of Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis:

  • mass free testing;
  • field hospitals;
  • medical services for those who test positive;
  • alternative housing for those who test positive and cannot self-isolate at home;
  • protective gear provided by employers;
  • and economic relief for farmworkers, day laborers and all low-wage workers.

In the last weeks, Homestead cases have risen to an all-time high, intensive care units at hospitals are at capacity and more beds are needed. Homestead is now a hot spot in Miami-Dade County, where the curve is not flattening. In response, AFSC has stepped up to serve and protect the farmworker community in Homestead with mobile clinics for COVID-testing, distributing masks & food, and cash assistants to farmworkers diagnosed with COVID-19. 

AFSC’s Florida Director, Lis-Marie Alvarado, expressed in a statement: “We condemn the governor’s racist & baseless remarks attributing the state’s steep rise in positive COVID-19 tests to Latino farmworkers. Instead, he should question how his lack of leadership has led for Florida quickly becoming the new national epicenter of the pandemic. The governor’s premature decision to re-open the state is responsible for the surge of the virus, yet he has chosen to blame farmworker families as scapegoats. 

Our state and all citizens benefit from the arduous, numerous, and invaluable contributions of farmworkers. They are essential workers. Farmworkers put food in our tables and drive the economy of our state. They risk their lives every day and are especially at risk of falling ill from COVID-19 since they do not receive adequate health protections from the state and are exposed to toxic pesticides, contaminated drinking water and air polluted with harmful dust particles and farm machinery exhaust at work where they do not receive any protective gear. 

Let there be no doubt that the governor’s comments are not just anti-immigrant, but racist.”

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