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Know Your Rights
Source: WNYC Public Radio
Subject: Health Justice & Access
Type: Media Coverage

Mexicans in NY Worry About Family Back Home

As the
Swine Flu continues to make headlines, Mexicans in New York say they are keeping tabs on their
family back home while trying to stay healthy here. Many in this immigrant
community are from the state of Puebla, just
south of Mexico City
and say family members are reporting few illnesses so far there. WNYC’s Cindy
Rodriguez reports

Port Richmond Avenue in Staten Island, Mexican
restaurants, bodegas and supermarkets dominate the area. Hortencia, Martinez works at Centro
de Inmigrante, a neighborhood advocacy group that helps Mexican immigrants with
everything from labor disputes to health issues. And lately she says she’s been
trying to educate people about Influenza Porcina – the Swine Flu. She reads
from a memo sent to her by the Mexican Consulate

a high fever above 102, a cough a headache, muscle aches, watery eyes. If they
have those symptoms they must go directly to the doctor

REPORTER: Martinez says she has a
good relationship with the Consulate General’s office and is trying to keep
people informed about what’s happening in their homeland. Florentino Melendez
has been calling home to find out how his family is doing. His hands are full
of tomatoes as he stops stocking fruits and vegetables for a moment

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: He says of course we are worried about our families…but
so far everything is ok

Melendez says they are wearing masks and staying indoors. The Mexican immigrant
says he has been in New York 3 years and so
far the illness has not caused much of a stir Staten
largely because no one has been directly affected. But he
says everyone should take precautions

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: …because it’s not an illness that’s only affecting
Mexicans its everyone all over

Down the street at the Latin Empire super market Araceli Ramirez is not taking
any chances

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: She says because of everything that’s happened she will no
longer send her kids to see their Grandmother in Mexico even though she had already
purchased their plane tickets and gotten them passports

REPORTER: Martinez says she’s
worried about her Grandmother especially because she is already in bad health
and likely would not be able to survive an illness like the swine flu…

Miles away in Queens, other Mexicans are
grappling with travel plans. Mariela Elizondo was born in Chicago
but her family lives in Mexico.
She says she will be attending a wedding there next month

leave on the 16th so I was a little worried about it especially because my
flight is stopping in Mexico City

Elizondo says she will wear a mask but wonders how much good that will do on a
plan with no ventilation

The oxygen is just being reused and reused so i really don’t know

Elizondo volunteers for the immigrant advocacy group
Make the Road New York. On a recent evening at the group’s Jackson Heights
office most people were more concerned about immigration reform than the swine
flu. Omar Benitez said he did worry about his family from Mexico City but he was also worried about

Thursday I was very sick you know I lost my voice I don’t know if you can hear
it. I was kind of scared you know

Benitez says he went to a pharmacy and got a shot and now he feels better. He
says many uninsured immigrants find it hard to get medical help and are often
turned away from hospitals. Nearby pharmacies say people have been buying up
hand sanitizers and two businesses have run out of masks only to find out the
wholesaler has as well.For wnyc, I’m
Cindy Rodriguez.