A new report by researchers and community-based organizations released on Monday shows that indigenous farm workers across California lacked the information and resources to protect themselves during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Sarait Martinez is the executive director of the Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño, a community organization that works with the indigenous community in the Central Valley. During a press conference presenting the results, she said the study found that many indigenous farm workers – or campesinos – faced job loss, lack of resources and limited health care during the height of the pandemic.
“For these reasons, we urge our state and federal officials to get involved and work with us to systematically address the long-standing, emerging and persistent inequalities in our campesino communities,” she said.
The researchers interviewed 300 farm workers and conducted 14 in-depth interviews with indigenous farm workers in the Central Valley and Central Coast regions during the pandemic COVID-19 study on farm workers. They found that language access, especially in medical facilities, was a critical issue for farm workers and their families.
“We heard really terrible stories about children interpreting for their parents,” Martinez said.
For this reason, it is important that local governments provide essential information in indigenous languages, as well as interpreters in clinics, where these farm workers are more likely to receive medical care.