Things That Matter

As People Lose Their Jobs, They’re Not Sending Money To Their Families Back Home And It’s Having A Major Impact On Local Communities

As the coronavirus continues its march around the world, economies from Brazil and Mexico to the United States and Colombia have been hit hard. The measures taken by governments to save lives have stalled economies, and are in the process of delivering a global recession. Economic contagion is now spreading as fast as the disease itself.

You don’t have to look any further than the unemployment numbers recorded each week in the United States. They’re at staggering, record-breaking levels. This huge impact on the U.S. economy, and its workers, is having an outsized impact on economies across Latin America as migrants aren’t able to send remittances back home to their families.

As the economic repercussions of the pandemic continue to grow, global remittances from migrants are being hit hard.

The pandemic is hitting jobs and wages in a variety of sectors of the global economy – including economies (like the U.S.) that depend on migrants. A global economic turndown will mean a slowdown in the amount of money these workers send back home to their families and will be crucial in spreading the economic contagion from richer countries to poorer ones.

For 2020, the International Monetary Fund is now predicting that the global economy will shrink by 3% – that’s a difference of trillions of dollars – and it will have trickle down effects on the world’s most vulnerable people.

Undocumented communities are especially vulnerable during economic downturns.

Credit: EqualityNYC / Instagram

Many of those who send remittances often work in the service industry and have been let go or furloughed from their jobs in hotels, restaurants or cleaning companies, without pay. Meanwhile, those who are undocumented cannot apply for unemployment, even though they likely contributed to state unemployment funds and paid taxes.

Even the recent federal stimulus bill – a $2 trillion dollar bill meant to dampen the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic – specifically left out undocumented migrants. It prevents even tax-paying migrants from receiving any federal aid. However, California has partnered with non-profits to become the first state to offer $500 in assistance to undocumented residents.

Remittances are crucial to the economies of poorer countries and help support millions of families.

Credit: @BancomerMX / Twitter

Remittances shelter a large number of poor and vulnerable households, underpinning the survival strategies of over 1 billion people. In 2019, an estimated 200 million people in the global migrant workforce sent home US$715 billion. Of this, it’s estimated US$551 billion supported up to 800 million households living in low- and middle-income countries.

And these families aren’t spending this money on cars and new computers. They’re spending it on everyday subsistence needs including food, medicines, and education. The World Bank projects that within five years, remittances will outstrip overseas aid and foreign direct investment combined, reflecting the extent to which global financial flows have been reshaped by migration.

In fact, global remittances hit record highs in 2018.

Credit: Pixabay

According to the World Bank, global remittances reached a record high in 2018, the last year for which figures are available. The flow of money to Latin America and the Caribbean grew by 10 percent to $88 billion in 2018, mostly due to the strong U.S. economy, where most of the money originates.

In many countries, remittances account for a significant portion of their gross domestic product. In Nicaragua and Guatemala they account for around 12 percent, and in El Salvador and Honduras, around 20 percent.

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, asked Mexicans in the United States not to stop supporting their relatives back home. He said February set a record in remittances to Mexico.

“Tell your countrymen to not stop sending help to their families in Mexico, who are also going through a difficult situation,” he said at a recent news conference.

Many migrants to the U.S. feel a strong responsibility to send back as much as they can to help their families back home.

Credit: @FamiliesBelongTogether / Twitter

Many immigrants to the U.S. are worried about not being able to send money to their parents, children, or abuelos back home. Many relatives depend on those who have emigrated to the U.S. to pay for electricity, food, medicine, and doctor’s visits. But with many losing their own jobs – money is just too tight for many.

In an interview with NBC News, Lesbia Granados – from Honduras – said what many can relate to, “I am everything to my parents, and it’s my responsibility to take care of them, after they did so much for me.”

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Joe Biden Has Outlined a Robust Plan to Rebuild the Economy Devastated By COVID-19

Things That Matter

Joe Biden Has Outlined a Robust Plan to Rebuild the Economy Devastated By COVID-19

The stats are in. Latinos are worried about their livelihoods under the present economy. Since COVID-19 shut down the economy in March, Latinos are facing an uncertain future. 

Take, for example, Vanessa Quiles, a 21-year-old recent graduate who was planning on entering the architecture field after graduating from Otis College of Art and Design.

Now, she’s not sure what she’s going to do. “Many places have stopped hiring, either taken down job applications that were posted or I’ve heard that a lot of people are getting laid off from smaller firms that may not have a lot of projects coming in,” she told NBC News. “I’m trying to remain hopeful.”

Photo: David L. Ryan via Getty Images

The evidence backs this up. On September 4th, the August Jobs Report showed that the unemployment rate is at 8.4. Additionally, 28 million people have filed for unemployment. What were once considered temporary furloughs have now morphed into permanent layoffs.

And Latinos are being hit harder by the economic uncertainty of the pandemic more than any other ethnic group. 

According to The Pew Research Center, 59% percent of Latinos claim that they live in households that have experienced job losses directly related COVID-19. Compared those numbers to 43% of the non-Hispanic population. 

But these grim statistics represent more than just faceless numbers–they are people fighting to get by everyday, scraping by on unemployment checks and dwindled savings. And they feel that the Trump administration has let them down.

Like Denver resident Isabella Prado, who is frustrated by the Trump administration’s lack of foresight when it came to financially taking care of Americans during the pandemic. 

“There’s no help,” the 25-year-old Latina told Mitú. “I saw other countries’ stimulus packages were, first of all, monthly, not like, ‘Here’s a thousand dollars, make it last you for four months.’ Even if it wasn’t enough to obviously pay bills [in America], at least you’d have some sort of monthly income. Like, we don’t even have that.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 economic shutdown in March, Trump has come under fire for the disorganized way he has dealt with the economic fallout that the pandemic has wreaked on millions of Americans. “It’s the same way [Trump] is dealing with global warming,” continued Prado. “He’s acting like it’s not there. He’s in denial about it.”

Joe Biden, however, recently outlined a plan to re-open the economy, a plan which includes expediting aid to small businesses, enforcing strict oversight on big corporations, providing direct cash relief to struggling families, and funding the infrastructure to provide wide-ranging COVID-19 testing capabilities so the economy can be prepared to open up again. 

This isn’t the first time that Biden has shown his leadership on the economic front.

He notably spearheaded the Recovery Act of 2009 that was responsible for creating 2 million jobs and successfully stimulated the economy out of the Great Recession.

Biden’s aids were effusive in their praise of his handling of the Recovery Act. “He held meetings with the Cabinet as a whole, the various agencies that are part of this, every other week to try to make sure we were moving quickly,” said his former Chief-of-Staff, Ron Klain. 

In other words, Joe Biden has a proven track record of taking care of the economy. And with pandemic hitting the wallets of Latinos especially hard, we need economic recovery more than ever. 

According to a poll conducted by the LA Times, only 42% of Latinos in California reported having the option to work from home, meaning they are essential workers and on the front lines of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. That is compared with 61% of white Californians who are able to work from home. And Latinos, like Prado, feel like they are being taken for granted.

“There’s a lot of minorities that are on the front lines in the hospitals, that are cleaning up after all the sick people,” Prado told Mitú. “They are putting themselves at risk just as much as nurses are. They don’t even get a shout-out, they don’t get anything.” 

That’s why it is our responsibility to vote in the upcoming election. The time to create a voting plan–whether it’s early voting, mail-in voting, or in-person voting the day-of–is now. The future of our country is on the ballot. And, we cannot let nuestras familias down. Go to IWillVote.com or VoyaVotar.com and text TODOS to 30330 today to learn what choices you have to vote in your community and get information on where and when to vote.

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Mexican Filmmaker Has Won Leoncino d’Oro Award At Venice Film Festival For This Must See Movie

Entertainment

Mexican Filmmaker Has Won Leoncino d’Oro Award At Venice Film Festival For This Must See Movie

Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images

Even though most of us are still under some sort of quarantine or at least practicing social distancing, much of the world (outside of the U.S. at least) has started to return to some sort of ‘new normal.’

Perhaps one of the best signs of this new normal is that Hollywood and much of the film industry has largely started back up and they’re hosting major film festivals all across the world – albeit with fewer people and a much more laid back atmosphere. We’re not seeing the red carpet events we typically used to see.

However, that hasn’t damped the overall spirit of the events – particularly at this week’s Venice Film Festival where a Mexican filmmaker took home a coveted award and is in the running for the festival’s top honor.

Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco has taken home one of the Venice Film Festival’s top awards.

Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco has won the Leoncino d’Oro Award at the Venice Film Festival for Nuevo Orden, a film depicting a dystopian version of Mexico in the not-so-distant future. 

The honor is one of several collateral awards at the festival and was presented by the Youth Jury, composed of 28 film-lovers between 18 and 25 from each of the countries in the European Union. The film was also in contention for the prestigious Golden Lion grand prize, but lost to Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland.

Since it’s debut last week, Nuevo Orden has received universally positive reviews from critics.

“Audiences might conceivably be divided on the vicious gut-punch of Franco’s approach, but as a call for more equitable distribution of wealth and power, it’s terrifyingly riveting,” the Hollywood Reporter writes. 

“At its heart, it argues that social inequality is presently so great that violence is inevitable. It’s set in Mexico, but it could be anywhere,” says Cineuropa. 

The film was screened Thursday night and drew a standing ovation from the audience and critics And has many fans around the world eagerly awaiting the chance to watch the film.

His film, Nuevo Orden, is a dystopian look at Mexico’s inequalities and paints a very stark picture of the country’s future.

Nuevo Orden, which stars Diego Boneta (of Netflix’s Luis Miguel fame), Naian González Norvind, Mónica del Carmen and Dario Yazbek Bernal, tells a tale of inequalities and political and social conflicts as the upper class in Mexico is replaced by a militaristic regime. It delves into racism, classism, poverty and wealth in ways that are uncomfortably reflective of the current unrest in several parts of the world, critics say.

To be frank, the film is extremely graphic and at times sounds difficult to watch. Unflinching cinematography depicts shocking and brutal scenes of assaults, rapes, executions, torture, blackmail and corruption.

The film opens with an opulent party for the wedding of an upper-class couple from Mexico City, which is interrupted when a legion of desperate people massacre the guests, marking the beginning of an insurrection in the streets that ends in a violent military coup that plunges the country into fascism.

“It’s a dystopian movie to say, ‘Let’s not get there,’” Franco, 41, explained.

Franco is no stranger to the awards circuit and has several award-winning films under his belt.

Credit: Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images

Michel Franco is no stranger to the awards stage. New Order, as the film is called in English, is his sixth feature film as director. Previous efforts have also won him prizes on the international film festival circuit, including a best screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival for the 2015 film Chronic starring Tim Roth, and a Cannes Jury Prize for April’s Daughter in 2017

Meanwhile, Cholé Zhao’s Nomadland took home the festival’s top prize over the weekend.

It seems oddly fitting in a year of social distancing and remote working that a drama about a lone woman wandering the American West has won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and that the director appeared only by video link-up to receive it. Chloé Zhao’s superbly nuanced Nomadland was picked by a Cate Blanchett-led jury from an 18-strong competition at a slimmed-down edition of the event, which has widely been regarded a success (Covid-19 test results pending). 

It is the fourth year in a row that a US-made film has taken the top prize, following Joker last year, Roma (a US-Mexico production) in 2018 and The Shape of Water in 2017. Zhao, who was born in China but works in the US, is the first female director of a Golden Lion-winning film since Sofia Coppola took the prize in 2010 with Somewhere.

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