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Home / Health / A radio station in California is fighting coronavirus misinformation among indigenous farmers

A radio station in California is fighting coronavirus misinformation among indigenous farmers

“Welcome to listen to the Indígena 94.1 FM radio,” said a Spanish-speaking voice from the radio station. After a while, he heard another voice, speaking in Mixteco (one of several indigenous languages ​​in southern Mexico).

Cervantes Alvarado, 40, said in Spanish: “I was ashamed of speaking about Mixteco.” “Whenever I listen to the radio, I feel proud of who I am. And don’t want my child to forget this.”

When the Covid-19 pandemic first hit the United States, the host of Indiana Radio was one of the first people who could explain Covid-19 to indigenous Mexican farmers in Ventura County because they were able to speak in Spanish, Mixteco and others. Switch between indigenous languages. As time passed, they began to debunk the misinformation about the coronavirus.
The Mixteco/Indigena Community Organization Project (MICOP) is an organization that runs a radio station and helps indigenous families in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. It is estimated that there are approximately 20,000 people living in southern Mexico in the region. Most of them are farm workers, some only speak their mother tongue.
According to a national survey conducted by the US Department of Labor from 201
5 to 2016, 77% of farm workers speak Spanish more comfortably, 21% of English and 1% prefer their mother tongue. The workers interviewed speak at least 10 different mother tongues.

Radio Indígena was established in 2014 as an affiliate of MICOP, aiming to provide indigenous Mexican farmers with information on labor rights and health programs in their native language. It started playing streaming programs online and expanded to FM radio, iOS and Android apps, and phone numbers.

Currently, the station broadcasts 40 hours of original programming in Spanish and the indigenous languages ​​of Mixteco, Zapoteco and Purépecha. They focus on various topics, including immigrant rights, prevention of domestic violence and indigenous history. Genevieve Flores-Haro, MICOP’s deputy director, estimates that approximately 3,000 people listen to the station every day.

Bernardino Almazan, producer and host of Indiana Radio, said that explaining certain medical terms in Mixteco is complicated because it is an ancient language.

Producer Bernardino Almazán, who has been working in coriander picking in the past, said that one of the biggest challenges in the early stages of the pandemic was explaining what Covid-19 was. He said that the history of the Mixteco language can be traced back to at least 2000 and does not include modern medical terms.

Almazan said: “We have to find other ways to talk about this virus, give examples of similar diseases, and explain the symptoms.”

Since then, the radio station has issued a series of Covid-19 public service announcements covering health agreements, school closures, price testing and mental health.

Almazán and his colleagues found themselves disguised as false information and rumors about the cost of Covid-19 testing and the contents of the coronavirus vaccine being developed.
For example, they must clarify that undocumented immigrants seeking medical care due to Covid-19 will not be affected by the “public fee” rule, a federal rule that makes it more difficult for immigrants to obtain legal status when using public places. Benefits such as food stamps and housing vouchers.
Another conspiracy theory that the host has resolved is whether Microsoft founder Bill Gates wants to use a potential coronavirus vaccine to implant tracking devices into the human body. Gates delivered a speech at the CNN Global Coronavirus Hall in July last year.

“We don’t recommend that they don’t follow the gossip on social media, and people who may not have accurate information,” said Francisco Didier, the coordinator of the TV station and co-host of Almazan Ulloa) in Spanish. “Our responsibility is to report responsibly.”

MICOP Executive Director Arcenio López stated that Radio Indígena is essential for introducing Covid-19 to the indigenous communities in Ventura County.

In addition to running radio stations, MICOP also mainly builds connections with the community through door-to-door interaction. This is better than distributing brochures, because many people working on California farms come from rural areas in Mexico, and Spanish illiteracy rates are high.

Lopez said that at the Covid-19 test site, a woman could not read her results because the document was only available in English and Spanish. He said she tested positive for the virus. Since then, the team has produced videos in multiple languages ​​showing how to make masks, wash hands properly and undergo Covid-19 testing.

Lopez said: “The ideal situation is that everyone learns English, but the reality is that some people will never learn English, and some people have just arrived in this country.” “Everyone should get important information in their native language. It is a basic human right.”

Advocates say migrant workers are at higher risk of Covid-19

Many of the listeners of Radio Indiana are Latinos and farm workers. These two groups are most affected by the coronavirus outbreak in multiple states.

Black and Hispanic children and all age groups have higher numbers of Covid-19 cases than other groups. In the summer, the death rate of blacks and Hispanics infected with the virus is also much higher.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that farm workers are at particular risk of infection due to close contact with each other in the field, shared housing or transportation, and limited access to clean water.

He is considered a
California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order in April that requires farm workers or food department workers who are subject to quarantine or quarantine orders or medical orders to have two weeks of paid sick leave. Newsom also allocated 100 million US dollars to subsidize basic workers’ childcare expenses.
In the central coast county of the state, Ventura County (Ventura County), the county has approximately 850,000 people and Latinos make up nearly 45% of the population. According to county health officials, as of November 25, a total of 18,394 people there were infected with Covid-19, and nearly 54% of them were Latin Americans. It is not clear how many people are indigenous to Mexico.

The county says 496 farm workers have tested positive for the virus.

According to the CNN affiliate KEYT, after the Covid-19 outbreak in a migrant worker housing facility in Oxnard, earlier this year, the county’s agriculture committee distributed to farmland About 1 million masks.

MICOP executive director López said that during the pandemic, the work of migrant workers has decreased significantly. Those who have jobs are struggling because they cannot use hand washing facilities and have to be in close contact with large numbers of people. He said many hired people feel they have no choice.

Lopez said that some people sleep in the car to avoid exposing their family members, while others are afraid to tell their employers that they have Covid-19 because they don’t want to lose their jobs.

Lopez said: “If you talk to a farm worker, many people will tell you that they have a job because they have a salary, so they are grateful.”

In the past two weeks, advocacy groups have been calling on the committee to set priorities and guidelines for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccine to give priority to farm workers.

Diana Tellefson Torres, executive director of the United Farm Workers Foundation, said in a statement: “Farm workers must be given priority and they can also be used to obtain facts about vaccines in their language and indigenous dialects. , Scientific information.”

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