Authorities ignore Spanish speakers at Uvalde press conferences

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Texas authorities dealing with the aftermath of the Uvalde school shooting have so far only provided public updates in English, prompting criticism that the many Spanish speakers in the predominantly Latino community -American are excluded.

The big picture: More than 81% of residents in Uvalde, where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at a school last week, are Latino and many speak Spanish at home.

  • Providing information in their preferred language is essential during such a difficult time, experts say.

What they say : “I think it’s a time and a time when Spanish resources are as important as having those resources in English,” said Jennifer Marcial Ocasio, Spanish board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

  • Marcial Ocasio said some bilingual journalists covering the shooting had to interpret for the residents of Uvalde.
  • She suggests that all governments make the provision of information in Spanish a top priority in crisis management guidelines.
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Victor Escalon, Regional Director of DPS South Texas ignored shouted requests from reporters to provide a statement in Spanish at the end of a press conference on Thursday.

  • Font at any given time promised to provide updates in Spanish, but did not follow up, say the journalists on the spot.
  • The Uvalde Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety, which held numerous press conferences, did not respond to requests for comment.
  • DPS says officials offer language services at a resource center set up for families of victims.
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Between the lines: Authorities have struggled to provide information in Spanish to Latin American communities during critical times in the past.

  • Many governments did not provide updates or information in Spanish on their websites during the early days of the pandemic. Latinos have been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus.
  • Authorities in Northern California are now providing bilingual updates after wildfires left farmworkers and immigrant communities searching for information years ago.
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