Hands Off Our Abuelos: Latinos Rise Up Against the Idea That Economy Trumps Lives of Elders

Hands Off Our Abuelos BELatina

President Donald Trump told Americans to go back to work in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, and as scientists and most Americans gasped in horror, Dan Patrick, lieutenant governor of Texas, went Soylent Green on the nation and gave the world a glimpse of the dystopian lengths the White House will go to deny the undeniable: The Trump administration has failed catastrophically.

Patrick said that as a senior citizen — he turns 70 next month — he would lay down his life to “keep the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren.” Then he went on to say that most grandparents in the US would do the same. His logic followed Trump’s: The economy is the priority — not lives. “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” Trump stated in a tweet. 

As the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 continues to grow in the U.S., it is clear that this disease does not discriminate by age. As of this writing: 147,937 confirmed and 2,596 deaths. New York City, where this writer sits, is the epicenter of the pandemic, with 63,155 cases confirmed and 1,040 deaths. These numbers will change as you read, because that is how fast they are escalating. We have not reached the apex of this pandemic yet. 

Yet Trump wanted packed churches at Easter (Yes, full churches during a pandemic. I know, I know…) and the economy opened — no matter the consequences and was more than willing to send our abuelos on a Logan’s Run. 

Abuelos BELatina
The writer’s abuelo, Juan Sabater Giol.

“Easter is a very special day for me,” Trump told Fox News. “Easter Sunday, and you’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it will be a beautiful time.” 

Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, didn’t see it as such a beautiful time, rather a grim prospect, and finally impressed on Trump the concept of common sense in the face of science. The U.S. president was forced to extend the quarantine guidelines until the end of April. 

There is sadly a clear example of what happens when you don’t pay attention to the experts and the science, and that is what took place at Liberty University after Spring Break. 

Jerry Falwell Jr., the university’s president, staunch Trump ally and a powerful voice in the evangelical world, reopened the university against all logic and scientific data. Falwell had pooh-poohed the coronavirus pandemic as an “overreaction” created by liberals who wanted to hurt Trump.

Nearly a dozen Liberty students got sick with symptoms that indicated Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Three were referred to local hospital centers for testing. An additional eight were told to self-isolate. Those are the cold facts. As Cuomo has said this virus is the great equalizer.

Initially, the pandemic was seen as a “Boomer Remover” and ageism skewed the trajectory of the disease. Therefore the Soylent Green solution get rid of the old and weak. This might be fine for some, but a monstrous sacrilege for Hispanics. Our abuelos are sacred ground and not negotiable. The ageism that runs through the American society has no place in Latino households.    

Latino voices came out on Twitter condemning Patrick and Trump. Fonsi Loazi called it a capitalist crime.


Evo Morales, former Bolivian President, called it an example of ferocious capitalism. “For them, money is first above the lives of the people.” 

MartinPL said maybe Patrick would like to lead by example.


“This thing about sacrificing your grandparents is a gringo invention,” said Richard Figueroa, 62. “My grandmother lived in my house until she died at 98, and she liked to cook until the end,” he said. 

“That kind of solution is simplistic, draconian, sociopathic, lazy, abusive, and fascist, in the worst sense of the word,” said Monica Perez, 61, a Puerto Rican environmentalist. “And it effectively skirts dealing with the real problem, which is a systems design problem, not a participant problem. As a Latina, I’m against it, and as a human being, I am against it too,” she added. 

Eileen Collins, 64, said: “It occurs to me that the same idiots who want elders to die for everyone’s benefit are the same d**** who probably claim to be the defenders of every fetus. Arghhh!” 

According to the Pew Research Center, 27 percent of Latinos in the U.S. live in multigenerational homes meaning multiple generations living under one roof grandfamilies, if you will. There are over 55 million Hispanics living in the United States. That’s a lot of abuelos.

Grandparents in Hispanic families tend to play traditional roles. They consider themselves old when they hit 60. But, interestingly, Hispanics in America live longer than their African American and White counterparts. Our abuelos are our village, our link to the past a bright red silk ribbon of legacy that connects us back to our roots. Los abuelos are our source.  

Abuela Belatina
The writer’s abuela, Ethel Sabater Korwain.

But it was not only Hispanics who recoiled in disgust at Patrick’s statement and Trump’s apparent approval. 

During a recent press conference held after Patrick’s remarks, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called his mother “pure sugar” and said he had asked her to stay at home. “My mother’s not expendable,” he said. He also tweeted: “You cannot put a value on human life. You do the right thing.”

Cuomo has become the man to listen to, at least in the epicenter of this pandemic that is New York City. As Maureen Dowd wrote in an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times: “Given the White House’s deathly delays and the president’s childish rants, America is yearning for a trustworthy parental figure — and a hammer.” That hammer is Andrew Cuomo.

What is clear is that Covid-19 is Donald Trump’s Waterloo. Read what Micah Zenko wrote in Foreign Affairs recently. 

“In short, the Trump administration forced a catastrophic strategic surprise onto the American people. But unlike past strategic surprises Pearl Harbor, the Iranian revolution of 1979, or especially 9/11 the current one was brought about by unprecedented indifference, even willful negligence,” Zenko wrote. 

“But the way that they squandered the gifts of foresight and time should never be forgotten, nor should the reason they were squandered: Trump was initially wrong, so his inner circle promoted that wrongness rhetorically and with inadequate policies for far too long, and even today. Americans will now pay the price for decades,” he added.  

Bill Maher was quoted in the Dowd article as telling the author: “I see Cuomo as the Democratic nominee this year. If we could switch Biden out for him, that’s the winner.” He added, “He’s unlikable, which I really like.”

So do we Hispanics in New York. So do we. For our abuelos and the entire nation. 

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