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Voces Oral History Center Interview with Fernando Jimenez

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0:05 - Preamble -- Introductions 4:43 - Coronavirus concerns and impact

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Segment Synopsis: Fernando talks about how he first learned of the coronavirus, on the internet, and how he didn’t take it seriously at first, especially because of it being from China and seeming too far away to be worried. That was until he heard on the news that it was coming to the United States and he started to become concerned, especially for his family and his kids.

Fernando is originally from Valle de Bravo, a small town in Mexico City whose economy relies heavily on tourism due to its close proximity to Lake Avándaro. The economic impact, such as lack of travel, that has been brought on by the pandemic has caused him to worry about his family in the United States but as well in Mexico. His mother, who owns a small food vendor in downtown Valle de Bravo, as well as his five siblings, are hurting financially – causing fear for Fernando.

Keywords: America; Coronavirus; Economic Impact; Financial Impact; Mexico; Mexico City, Mexico; Pandemic; Tourism Industry; United States

Subjects: Coronavirus Infections--economics; COVID-19 (Disease); Mexicans--Arizona; Valle de Bravo (Mexico)

8:09 - Social impact

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Segment Synopsis: Fernando discusses the social impact COVID has had on himself and his family while residing in Phoenix, Arizona. The transition to online learning for his children brings about concerns in Fernando due to the limitations of this learning style. In addition to not getting their proper education, he says they are unable to socialize, and because of his long hours at work, he’s unable to make up for it by being able to take them places such as the movies or outdoors. Additionally, he still worries about going out with them.

Although Jimenez does not belong to any specific organizations or groups, he does attend church at times, he discusses not having many friends in Phoenix, Arizona, so this pandemic has only further limited what few opportunities he had to socialize. He has built relationships with individuals in both Mexico and in Prescott, Arizona, which is a few hours north of Phoenix, but he hasn’t seen them. Quarantine and social distancing have placed him and his family in a position to where they have not socialized with anyone except for family.

Keywords: America; Arizona; Coronavirus; Education--Online-Learning; Language Barrier; Pandemic; Phoenix, Arizona; Prescott, Arizona; Social Distancing; United States

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Mexicans--Arizona; Mexicans--Arizona--Social Conditions; Quarantine--America; Quarantine--United States; Social Interactions--United States; Spanish (language)

12:41 - Impact on work

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Segment Synopsis: Fernando is a painter and does construction, but mostly paints. He works with contractors who find him jobs who then set him up with clients. He doesn’t work for any particular company and works mostly with family or hired help that he finds from other Latinos or Mexicans. He often works with his stepsons or he goes to Home Depot or scans social media to find help.

Work for Fernando has not slowed down at all during the pandemic. In fact, it has only increased. He notes how many more people are also looking for work, especially due to large companies laying off workers, and many Latinos especially lost jobs and still have bills to pay. In terms of finances, he was initially worried he would lose some income, but as time has passed, he has gotten busier, and he hasn’t been as negatively affected as he thought he would. He gets lots of calls from contractors for jobs, especially because people who have not put their plans on hold due to the pandemic are still looking to get work done on their houses.

His typical workday starts at 7a.m. and he generally works a full eight hours, with a 30-minute lunch break. He usually gets a call from a contractor who has a job for him, and then he goes out and gets the supplies and heads to the job. He usually finishes a job a day, whether it’s exterior or interior painting, or exterior remodeling. He typically works 5-6 days a week and generally has a couple of people working with him. Given his job as a painter, he already wears a mask for the fumes and chemicals, but he notes that he doesn’t really wear one in public, especially because people in Arizona aren’t necessarily wearing them in general.

He notes that he sometimes makes more money than he usually would because of how many people want to get work done right now and because not everyone is working, especially contractors. So those who are still going are willing to offer more to get the job done. He sometimes helps his family in Mexico, but he mostly is concerned about providing financially to his family in Arizona.

Keywords: America; Arizona; Coronavirus; Economic Impact; Essential Worker; Financial Impact; Mexico; Pandemic; Phoenix, Arizona; United States

Subjects: Coronavirus Infections--economics; COVID-19 (Disease); Mexicans--Arizona--Phoenix--Economic conditions; Mexicans--Arizona--Social conditions

23:36 - Family -- Education

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Segment Synopsis: Fernando says his kids have struggled with the online learning environment, especially with the amount of homework they are receiving. He notes he has also struggled because he is not able to help them all the time, due to the language barrier. He speaks English, but not at a level where he can always help his kids with their homework. He talks about particular difficulties his children have, including that his son has attention problems, and how it has been made worse by being home and not being able to socialize with friends and get in-person instruction. It’s been a struggle to get him to focus on his schoolwork in a home environment.

He says their school has offered resources such as free lunches, but that they haven’t taken advantage of them because of concerns about getting sick. Fernando himself hasn’t interacted much with his kids’ teachers, but they have been available to them online and have been helpful.

Keywords: America; Arizona; Coronavirus; Education--Online-Learning; Language Barrier; Pandemic; Phoenix, Arizona; United States

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Latino Americans; Mexicans--Arizona--Social conditions; Quarantine--United States; Social Interaction--United States; youth

31:23 - Healthcare

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Segment Synopsis: As an undocumented immigrant, Fernando is not eligible to receive much medical care. If he gets sick, he can’t really go to the doctor, which forces him to have to take care of his illnesses on his own. Otherwise, he has often had to go back to Mexico to get help, which isn’t ideal, especially given his status. Therefore, he is perhaps more worried than others about contracting COVID-19 because he wouldn’t be able to seek healthcare or be able to afford it because of his status and lack of insurance. Additionally, as the primary breadwinner in the family, the rest of his family would be severely affected if he were to get sick and lose work or have to leave to get help. He says he has gotten sick before from the flu or with a cold, which he must deal with himself, but there have been times when it’s more than that, and he’s had to go back to Mexico.

Keywords: America; Arizona; Coronavirus; Financial Impact; Health Services; Healthcare System; Mexico; Pandemic; Phoenix, Arizona; Undocumented; United States

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Latino Americans; Latinos (United States)

36:11 - Politics, current events, Latino experience

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Segment Synopsis: Fernando talks about the impact of the Trump administration on his ability to seek healthcare as well as the treatment of Latinos or Mexicans in general. He says it has increased fear of both getting sick as well as getting deported. He says Trump’s administration has also increased fear, discrimination, hate, and racism toward Latinos and Mexicans. Fernando talks about his personal experiences with racism and discrimination, especially in small, predominantly white towns in Arizona, but also in Phoenix.

Regarding the current social environment and unrest with the nationwide protests, Fernando has not really been affected. He talks about his relationship with law enforcement and how he’s not afraid of the police because he has been spared deportation several times when he is pulled over, despite his status.

Lastly, he also talks about the general attitude many Latinos, and Mexicans especially, have about something like the coronavirus. He notes how if they can’t see or feel it, then it doesn’t feel real to them.

Keywords: America; Anglos; Arizona; Coronavirus; Pandemic; Phoenix, Arizona; Protest; Trump Administration; United States

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Latino Americans; Latinos (United States)