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  • Writer's pictureLa Voz Latina

A lasting wound for Maryland and the Latino community

Written by: Carlos Sanchez 🇲🇽


Image credit: Matt Rourke/AP


Baltimore is normally an afterthought on the news, but in the days and weeks following the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, Baltimore was vaulted into the spotlight. A city that’s gone through so much, from the killing of Freddie Grey and the resulting riots, to a long history of crime the city’s built an unfortunate reputation for.


On March 25th, millions across Maryland went to bed as usual, but by morning, tragedy struck. The cargo ship Dali, a Singaporean ship from Synergy Marine. Carrying over 700 tons of hazardous materials, the ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, leaving little but ruins.


The reality of the all too real news set in hours later. An iconic portion of the Baltimore skyline, gone overnight. Much like the iconic Domino’s Sugar sign, the bridge was a landmark for the city. The worst part was that it happened so suddenly-gone overnight.


Stood upright, the 984-foot Dali cargo ship is nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower. The ship lost the ability to propel itself forward after a catastrophic power failure. After hitting a critical bridge column, the entire bridge collapsed within seconds. Harbor workers quickly notified Maryland State Police before the collapse, saving the lives of many.


Unfortunately, many families will be impacted by the collapse, with a disproportionate impact among the Latino community. The workers on the bridge that fateful night were from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The economic impact of the tragedy pales in comparison to the human impact for the community, and the six families impacted, especially the two families who have yet to find their loved ones.


The collapse of the bridge was once again another tragedy to hit the city. Hearing the news roll in all day about the collapse, and seeing the reaction from across Maryland, and across the nation hit very close to home, living a half hour away from Baltimore and having family members living minutes away from the bridge. 


These workers reflected some of the largest immigrant communities in Maryland, and they were a shining example of what it is to be a Marylander. 


Immigrants are an overlooked group by many, while they make so many unsung contributions to our country. Immigrants do what most in the United States shy away from, both in their journey to the U.S. to their unsung labor. They do this for a better life both for them and their families. 


The unimaginable loss of these hardworking people is felt hardest by the families and communities they were a part of. Fathers, brothers, uncles, neighbors, co-workers, and friends from church were lost on this day. Working day in and day out, some of these workers were able to make time to video call with family back at home for baptisms, and other major events. 


These family members often sent money back home to reinvest in the communities they grew up in while in Latin America. Being in the States, they still made space in their budgets to give gifts to their families back in Latin America.


For families where the dad was the primary breadwinner, the impact on their lives will be tremendous. Moreover, the kids they leave behind will have to go on without their dads at their quinceañera, graduation, wedding, and much more. In times like these, the impact of their loss will be felt even harder. 


From Azacualpa, Honduras, Veracruz, Mexico, to Baltimore, the impact of their deaths will linger. Without overlooking the tragedy of their untimely death, the collapse of the bridge is a reminder of the impact Latinos and immigrants have on Maryland, and across the U.S.. Across the country, restaurants introduce people to meals from our home countries. 


Latinos often work behind the scenes, keeping the U.S. running. The deaths of these workers in particular hurts because of the sudden nature of their death.


 The bridge will be rebuilt, but the lives lost will forever leave a wound. As the years go on, not only must we never forget those that died, but we must also remember the impact they and so many other immigrants have in keeping the U.S. a prospering nation.


For more information on the families directly impacted by the collapse, please visit this link.


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