Salvadoran in New York: "Even family members who were visiting are getting sick"

People queuing to enter a healthcare center in New York. reference photo, agencies.
By Carmen Rodriguez, Washington DC

The drama of Salvadorans who are stranded around the world due to the closure of the airport and the lack of responses from the Salvadoran government to help them return to their country, keep going. Some who only visited their relatives in the most affected areas are getting sick, without being able to access the health system.

Despite the fact that last Wednesday, the Salvadoran Constitutional Chamber, ordered the Executive to develop a plan, in the next six days, to repatriate its citizens, the cabinet of President Nayib Bukele, continues without saying.

"My daughters are in El Salvador. I was traveling visiting my family. We live in El Salvador, we don't live in America and now we can't go back. In this country if people don't work, can't eat or pay the rent. We are worried, we are desperate. We want to return to El Salvador!”, says sandra, one of the thousands of compatriots who are forced to stay away from their homes.

The problem faced by Salvadorans who are stranded in other countries, it's not just cheap. In United States, the community reported cases of compatriots who were visiting with a relative, in New York and due to the health crisis, In this state, contracted the coronavirus.

"There are families that apart from not having anything to eat, they are having a hard time, because one or up to three of its members tested positive for the coronavirus. Even family members who were just visiting are getting sick ”, Ana Martínez said, New York resident.

In United States, going to a hospital is very expensive. Although medical centers cannot deny assistance, the total of the invoices that people receive when they are registered, it scares them. "Going to a hospital is expensive, you get thousands of dollars bills and if you don't have health insurance here, the account is more expensive ”, Martinez pointed out.

Salvadorans who spoke to Voice of the Diaspora also said, who have attempted to contact the authorities at the New York consular offices, Virginia y Maryland, but they don't get a response that gives them hope.

"I called, but they don't answer me. My daughter called the Foreign Ministry in El Salvador and they told her that we had to enter the internet, but me and my husband, we couldn't do that on the internet. We don't have answers on the internet ”, Sandra points out, what's going on quarantine, In New York, state that until Friday confirmed more than 172 thousand cases in the United States.

Not repatriated, yes deported

According to President Bukele's speech, no Salvadoran can return to the country, due to the closure of the international airport due to the pandemic emergency. But nevertheless, the country has not stopped receiving daily flights with Salvadorans deported from the United States.

Regarding data and figures on deportees received in Salvadoran territory, in the last weeks, Astrid Ávalos, of the Migration Directorate, He stated that the institution does not have "information on returnees to share with the media".

But nevertheless, Thursday, the director of migration, Ricardo Cucalón, confirmed that the country received in recent days 800 Salvadorans deported from the United States, despite the closure of the airport and the pandemic.

"The Legislative Assembly and the Constitutional Chamber have already said that the conditions must be created so that Salvadorans can return to El Salvador. The regulations must include, in the emergency situation, a plan to receive returnees and Salvadorans who have been stranded by the situation ", Celia Medrano of the Salvadoran organization assured, Cristosal.

Support from family and friends

Some of the Salvadorans who are far from their country, in the midst of the health crisis, have the support of family and friends. But others, as a group of 100 Salvadorans stranded in Nicaragua, they are alone to their fate.

Those who have the support of family and friends, are not concerned with paying rent or eating, they have the support of their loved ones. But nevertheless, they have other concerns.

Mario, He is one of the Salvadorans who has the support of a friend. But the little money he had is about to run out and he doesn't know how he will do it.. This young man was in Chile and Argentina, participating in two workshops related to his work.

"I have been fortunate to have a friend who lives in Argentina, I'm going to pay the rent of your apartment little by little, I am complying with household quarantine and I am surviving on what little I had. But I have some complications ”, argues the Salvadoran.

For now, Mario does not have internet access to his bank in El Salvador, that complicates your situation. Although the company you work for understands the situation, upon returning to the country, he does not know how he will maintain and recover from the extra expense he has incurred, for being stranded in another country.

"The people of the Consulate have been kind, made available to Salvadorans who have nowhere to stay, or they don't have to pay the rent, the Consulate facilities. They did a campaign to collect aid in El Salvador and the Spanish Embassy made a donation. But after, all the questions we have are no longer answered ”, Mario stated.