By César Arroyo, Alonso Martínez, Julián Zamora y Mari Arango
Esta publicación también está disponible en: Español
The viralized hashtag #StayHome is a privilege that not everyone in the country can share on their social networks. There is a large group of people who cannot afford that luxury. They have to go out every day because otherwise they cannot pay the rent, debts or feed their families. Informal work in Costa Rica is part of the day to day. From caring for cars in Cartago or street vendors in San José, to artisans on the increasingly deserted beaches of Guanacaste. According to the 2019 INEC data, they are equivalent to 46.5% of the employed population.
All these people, who depend on the sales they make on the street, today breathe fear and uncertainty about what the COVID-19 virus pandemic may bring. If they are prohibited from leave their houses, they will stop receiving money. They would have to undergo a confinement without the security that there is food, or even hygiene implements in their houses. If they go out, they are taking a risk, and if they stay, too. “And if I have to close, who will feed me?” Adela Villalta, stocking vendor on Avenida 4 on San Jose, said.
According to the head of the MTSS (Ministry of Labor and Social Security) press Geovanny Díaz, they are working to see what are the possible exits or solutions for these people.
In Voice of Guanacaste and Delfinocr we collect testimonies from informal workers in San José, Cartago and Guanacaste about what means for them and their families to be in quarantine.
Joaquín Bermúdez Castro, 42 years old, lives in Santa Cruz and sells coconut water in Tamarindo. He says that now does not receive 80% of its income. “If they tell me to stay at home there is no answer to that, because what are we going to live on? We are not going to have anything to eat, we have no other income or any help from the government or from any institution, the truth is that we have an uncertain future here. ” Photo: Mari ArangoPhoto: Mari Arango
Luz Jarquin, 35, and Lucrecia Zapata, 47, have been selling handicrafts and jewelry in Tamarindo for 7 years. Luz: “I am Nicaraguan and I have to send (money) to my family in Nicaragua, so (not leaving home) would be a very difficult situation for us, who are already living it because there are almost no tourists. The season was very good and now we are experiencing a very difficult situation ”. Photo: Mari ArangoPhoto: Mari Arango
Carlos Pérez or “Kolbi” as people call him, is 47 years old. From Monday to Saturday, he sells products such as cases and cell phone chips in Nicoya downtown. “The government says very easy ‘stay’ and many can stay but I depend on this. Now only that the police come to take me away, but the option of staying at home is not an option. ” Photo: Cesar Arroyo CastroPhoto: Cesar Arroyo Castro
José Ángel Mora sells lottery in Nicoya downtown. A few hours before talking to him, the government had suspended the conduct of lottery and chances starting on March 24, as one of the COVID-19 warnings. This measure would impact more than 1,900 vendors like José. “They (the Social Protection Board) what they are foreseeing is that we have no one to sell the product because parks, hospitals,and schools are closed. But they have never taken into consideration if we are old, if we are young ,if we expose ourselves or if we eat ”. Photo: Cesar Arroyo CastroPhoto: Cesar Arroyo Castro
Enrique Solís López from Mariachis Nuevo Horizonte has 15 years working at Tamarindo beach. He says that he is not prepared neither monetarily nor psychologically for what is happening. “We don’t know if tourists will like to come back again, if everything will go back to how it was before, we are seeing what we can do before they tell us that we can no longer leave our houses.” Photo: Mari ArangoPhoto: Mari Arango
Albert Alvarado, 44 years old, rents chairs at Tamarindo beach and assures that in 17 years he has never seen anything like this. ” We do not know what will happen if they close the beach, I am paying for my chairs, I honestly do not know what to do, since the last week of March was great and now there is nothing.” Photo: Mari ArangoPhoto: Mari Arango
Carlos Vásquez is an artisan who works in front of the old Lehmann Bookshop. He is 57 years old, he has a wife with hypertension and diabetes, and lives in San José downtown. He says that before Covid-19, he earned between ₡ 20,000 and ₡ 25,000 a day, now it does not even reach ₡ 5,000. “If I could be in my house right now, I will stay in my house. But how does the food arrive? This is my way of living, this is how I live.” Photo: Julian ZamoraPhoto: Julian Zamora
Jonathan Masís Piedra is 40 years old and lives in Tobosi de Cartago. He is an Uber driver and generally transits through Cartago and San José. Normally makes ₡ 50,000 a day but in the middle of the pandemic it has barely reached ₡ 12,000. “My wife and my two children depend on me. I have debts, pay the car and the rent for the house. All I have to do is go out and face the situation and hope that this improves as soon as possible.” Photo: Alonso Martinez
Rolando Sanabria González is 48 years old and lives in Fátima of Cartago. He looks after cars at the head of the Municipality of Cartago. A good day for him is ₡ 20,000, but with the crisis that the country (and the world) is experiencing, it barely rounds out to ₡ 7,000. “I have to bring food to my house, pay for water and electricity. I live with my parents and I am the main breadwinner of the home. If this gets worse I don’t know what I’m going to do.” Photo: Alonso MartinezPhoto: Alonso Martinez