Miami, US, May 27 (efe-epa).- Around 50 protesters placed mock body bags in a park in downtown Miami Wednesday to honor the lives lost by COVID-19 and protest the government’s response to unemployment caused by the epidemic.
Led by the independent New Florida Majority (NewFM) political organization, the protesters first staged a mock funeral procession from an unemployment office located in the northwest of the city, before driving to Downtown with 100 stuffed body bags tied to the roofs of the vehicles.
During the funeral procession, protesters demanded more financial aid for those unemployed as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, and demanded Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to “act now” to expand unemployment benefits for Floridians who need it.
“Florida is a management horror on the subject of the pandemic. The governor refuses to act as it should… There are 1.5 million unemployed… These people are unable to pay their rent and are at the point of losing their homes,” Colombian Carlos Naranjo told EFE.
“We have 100 bodies representing the 100,000 people who are about to die right now; 100,000 victims in the United States, the richest and most powerful country in the world. One hundred thousand people who did not have to die,” said Naranjo.
At the foot of the Torch of Friendship monument, built in 1960 in Downtown to recognize immigrant workers from all over Latin America, Bernadette Campos said that she went out to protest because her unemployment check had not arrived.
“I am personally claiming my check from the governor. This is an inoperative and bad system to collect unemployment, a system that does not work for millions of unemployed people who have lost their jobs in the country,” Campos said.
“Eight weeks have passed, I have a disabled husband and a house to attend to. I just want an answer: Governor, where’s my money?” asked the woman, who said that she had been employed by “an American company.”
In a statement, NewFM said that the “funeral processions” were also organized in other cities of the state to hold the governor and President Donald Trump responsible for “their inaction and recklessness.”
The groups Organize Florida, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Florida Student Power Network and Dream Defenders were also convened by NewFM Wednesday afternoon in the cities of Orlando (center), Tampa (west coast) and Jacksonville (northwest) to carry out the symbolic protest.
“DeSantis and Trump are two peas in a pod of irresponsibility and recklessness. The entire country has seen they don’t care about us, they only care about their power and their corporate friends,” said NewFM Organizing Director Serena Perez in the statement.
“While many of us are still struggling to survive, pay back months of owed rent and bills, DeSantis is rushing people back to work even if that means putting our health and the lives of our families and co-workers at risk,” she said, adding that “we don’t need an arbitrary reopening based on flawed data cooked by our state government, we need unemployment checks and rent relief now!”
According to its website, NewFM is an independent political organization “working to increase the voting and political power of marginalized and excluded constituencies toward an inclusive, equitable, and just Florida.”
From March 1 to Wednesday the state recorded 52,634 confirmed cases of COVID-19 through testing and 2,319 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Sixty people died in Florida from the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, one of the highest death rates on record since the state’s economic reopening, however the growth in infections was one of the lowest, with 379 new cases.
The US surpassed 100,000 deaths on Wednesday, becoming the first country in the world to exceed that number, according to an independent count by Johns Hopkins University.
The number of infections is now 1,695,776, the highest in the world with a difference ahead of Brazil (391,222), Russia (370,680) and the United Kingdom (268,616). EFE-EPA