PPPN Monthly Report: March & April 2021

Updated: Jul 10

Executive Summary

In six months the Project Protect Promotora Network has settled into a consistent team with various operations around the state. This settling was perfectly timed, as Colorado entered into phase 1b3 vaccination on May 5, heralding a focus in the Network on vaccine education and access for agricultural workers, their families, and their communities. While helping to mitigate the dangers of COVID-19 is of continued importance, other challenges are increasingly being reported.


In March & April, the deaths of two agricultural workers shook the communities in subregion North 2. These deaths were unrelated to COVID-19, but in both cases the Network provided assistance, raising funds and organizing for the affected families. The death of Juan Panzo Temoxtle was devastating enough, but promotores reported that workers were fired for speaking out afterwards about the conditions and situation surrounding it. Outreach events thus show that even if fully vaccinated, difficulties would exist for agricultural workers in Colorado.


These months saw extensive fraud targeting agricultural workers in the Western Slope as well. Promotores have recorded the loss of both stimulus and tax return checks in several schemes. These issues continue to come up, showing that even aid intended to assist agricultural workers can come with various barriers. All regions have shown similar patterns, where promotores have given compex aid - providing not only food boxes, but legal or social service referrals as well. While vaccination events and outreach continue, promotores are also giving frequent aid towards internet access and transportation. The settling of the Network and cultivation of relationships allow promotores to provide aid to agricultural workers far beyond COVID-19 relief. This multi-front response to these challenges provides a foundation of building stronger social capital for rural agricultural communities.


Programmatic Effect

In March and April, the Promotora Network boasted a strong and dedicated community of 74 leaders, and now is growing again. A regional organizer for Western Slope region 2 was recruited for Northwest counties that often are host range and herd workers. By the end of April, the new team was on-boarded and were ready for their training in early May.


In March and April, The Network assisted with over 4,000 vaccination appointments. Assistance ranged from translation and interpretation, to assistance with scheduling appointments and completing paperwork, to outreach and assistance with scheduling vaccination events. Promotores were highly active in communicating with the governor’s office, local health agencies, and qualified clinics to support in identifying communities needing more access points.


During these months, there is a substantial influx of seasonal, migrant, and H-2A workers as fields need to be prepared for crops during the spring rain season. Of the 17,009 outreach conversations in March and April, 12,191 were with agricultural workers (72% compared to 56% in January and February). Additionally 54% of our total outreach has been with men, a switch from winter months where 53% of outreach was with women. Of these conversations, many indicated a need for translation services which is lacking in most rural communities, especially in relation to medical services and vaccination appointments. There were 552 agricultural workers referred to legal services, 1,839 conversations about worker’s legal rights, and 1,129 conversations providing education about workplace benefits. Protective equipment, including sun hats, face masks, work gloves, and rain ponchos, is frequently requested. While the network has a small inventory of face masks, hand sanitizer and work gloves to distribute, more resources are needed as workers face extreme working conditions and report having little or no access to these items through their employers.


North 1 On-The-Ground

This team supported workers from 13 different agricultural employers.

April marked the arrival of many H-2A workers for the North subregion 1. Some of the farms hosting these workers are not willing to welcome and receive information from Promotoras. The team worked with Colorado Legal Services and the Mexican Consulate to identify where the workers are located and directly provide resources.


While many H-2A workers were already vaccinated, the team still did a lot of work in connecting other agricultural workers and their families with vaccination appointments. In March the team collaborated with other organizations to bring a mobile vaccine clinic to different farms and also reach farm workers who fall in the gap like the ones in transition of jobs, laid off or looking for a job. During this work, this team reported that organizations often undervalue the power of Promotora, and did not approach the partnership in a considerate way and caused many logistical issues that resulted in the team scrambling to update everyone who has scheduled an appointment. The regional organizer, Rocio Franco, explained “it is not that the Latino community doesn't want the vaccine, it is the lack of accessibility and lack of trust in the site management!” This team assisted with over 500 appointments for both agricultural workers and their community.


Regional Partners:

  • Centro Humanitario

  • Servicios la Raza

  • Mexican Consulate

  • Brighton Housing Authority

  • Employment Services of Weld County

  • Salud Family Health Centers

Regional Education & Training:

  • Workplace Sexual Harassment (EEOC)

  • Emotional Wellness Classes (Cultivando)

  • Dia de la Abogacia Latina / Latina Advocacy Day


North 2 On-The-Ground

This team supported workers from 18 different agricultural employers.

North subregion 2 has been successful at reaching farmworkers at farms after their shifts or during lunch break, at family centers and churches, and in their residences. While much of their work does focus on vaccination assistance, this region has faced devastation in their community. In early March, the team responded to a call for help from a Guatemalan family who had a house fire and provided emergency kits that included 1 sleeping bag, 3 socks, 3 gloves, 6 electrolyte beverages, hygiene items, 5 masks and 1 hand sanitizer. Later in the month, the team was struck with another tragedy with the death of Juan Panzo Temoxtle, who drowned in a sewage pit at his work at a dairy. The local promotora team was called in to assist the workers and Juan’s family. Together the regional team and the promotora network manager helped to organize the funeral ceremony and raise the necessary funds to cover the cost of sending Juan’s body back to Mexico.


Juan Panzo Temoxtle was born 06/17/1976 and returned to our creator on 03/31/2021. Juan was residing in Greeley, Colorado, where he worked in local dairy operations. His death was unexpected and a part of a workplace incident. He passed on March 31, 2021, with his brother, Alfredo Panzo, and his family - Matin Calihua, Simon Panzo, and Minerva Panzo - by his side.


Juan was born in Tepetzitzintla Vicente Guerrero Puebla and the son of a loving family that has long worked in the earth and taught him the values of humility, care, and respect. He was proud Aztec born to Santos Panzo and Ángela Temoxtle. He was married on December 22, 2012, to his loving wife, Serafina Caliuhua Gonzalez.


Juan was a proud father of Sara Yanet Panzo Calihua, Juan Miguel Panzo Calihua, and Joan Alexander Panzo Calihua. He worked hard to support his family and believed in the perseverance of this earth for the future of his people and children. He is loved as the eldest brother of Alberta Panzo, Gerigoria Panzo, Alberto Panzo, Victoria Panzo, Amalia Panzo, Dominga Panzo, Alfredo Panzo, Gabriel Panzo, and Ramiro Panzo.


The Regional Organizer, Soraya Leon, reflected on the promotora’s role in this tragedy, “Those two weeks were hard and challenging for myself and my team. We were working overtime and the stress was accumulating on our backs. Mr. Panzo’s tragedy is demanding so much effort and time, but we are still happy to help them and get them all the support.” Family members and coworkers experienced backlash from attending the funeral and speaking to the press -- some losing their jobs at the dairy.


In April, a different dairy worker, Javier Gonzalez Temoxtle, passed away in his sleep. This worker was living in employer-owned dairy housing with his brother. While it was unclear the cause of death, the brother told the promotora team that they did not have hot water or heat and resort to heating water on the stove to bañarse a jicarazos (using buckets to bathe). He went on to explain that he needed to spend his own money to fix these issues with heat and water because the manager and owner never wanted to pay for it.


Francisco Javier Gonzalez Temoxtle was born on April 5, 1996 in a small town called Tepetzintla, Vicente Guerrero, Puebla, Mexico. He was the second son of Francisco Gonzalez Garcia and Victoria Temoxtle Calihua.Together with his brother Joel Gonzalez Temoxtle, they arrived at Weld County in Colorado in 2017, looking for a better future for his family.


Francisco Javier had clear goals and ambitions and he was determined and hard-working. He wanted to see his family grow in better conditions and to provide them the best education and opportunities for social and economic stability. He aspired to have his own business in the future. He was an attentive and loving person, who was always on the lookout for his wife, children, parents, friends, and extended family. Francisco maintained frequent contact with them in Mexico, taking care of and providing for their daily life.


He started out as a worker in the livestock industry, tending and cleaning the pens. He progressed to preparing the food for dairy cattle. Francisco Javier always showed a willingness to help the community, with optimism and human quality. He was known by his coworkers and friends for his kindness. His death was unexpected, and happened unexpectedly overnight, leaving great pain for his family and friends.


He leaves his wife Antonia Quiahua Calihua and his children Kevin Omar, 8, and Yareli, 3.


We are grateful to the leadership of Soraya Leon in navigating two difficult deaths, ensuring her promotora team is taken care of, and continuing to serve many others in their community during this difficult time. Cynthia Duarte and Alma Duarte, promotores for this region, responded immediately to Juan Panzo’s accident and assisted his family navigate the situation from the hospital to the repatriation of his body. Alma went on to travel to the town of Tehuacán, Puebla, Mexico to join his family and represent the Promotora Network’s continued support. Juan was buried in Tepetzitzintla, Puebla. It was deeply meaningful for both Alma and Juan’s family that she joined the six day funeral services that were held for him. While Juan’s death may have easily gone unnoticed here, he was an important member of his community and loved in his village who gathered to honor and celebrate his life. Our continued gratitude goes to Marta Espinoza and Soraya Leon who are assisting Javier Gonzalez’s funeral process.


To date, Project Protect Food Systems and FrontLine Farming have raised over $20,500 to support these funeral expenses, family needs, and costs associated with returning the bodies home to Mexico. Even under this stress and strained mental health, this team assisted with over 700 appointments for both agricultural workers and their community.


Regional Partners:

  • Vuela for Health

  • Monfort Sunrise Clinic

  • Local church leaders, and school districts D6

  • Latin Coalition

  • CBOCES

  • CIRC

  • Local Workforce Office

  • Mexican Consulate

  • Banners Hospital

  • Latin Foundation

  • Cultivando.

Regional Education & Training:

  • Workplace Sexual Harassment (EEOC)

  • First Health Mental Aid (Vuela for Health)

  • Leadership (Cultivando)


North 3 On-The-Ground

This team supported workers from 27 different agricultural employers.

While advocating for SB 21-087: Concerning Agricultural Workers’ Rights is not the focus of the work promotores do, the conversation is happening in these communities. Agricultural workers tell the promotores they are “very hopeful that the bill will pass”. Much of the workers arriving in this region are from California and are already vaccinated. However, family who come with them to Colorado often are not. This team has been connecting these migrant agricultural families with vaccination appointments, often working with the Mexican Consulate. This region is marked by low healthcare access, with very few clinics and health-based nonprofits. For this reason, partnership and communication with government agencies was an effective strategy for mobilizing vaccination clinics for agricultural communities. The promotores played a crucial role in assisting with over 700 vaccination appointments for agricultural workers and their community.


In this region, the workers who were dismissed from the potato packing plant in Wray have been supported with information about their rights as well as accompanying Jennifer to speak with them to advise them and looking for monetary resources and helping them with food boxes.


In addition to this work, this team is skilled at identifying and responding to what is most desired by the community. This team often collaborates with local organizations to provide free or reduced cost English and GED classes, including assistance with textbooks. They often work closely with agricultural workers and community members struggling with housing, and young mothers needing formula, pampers, and food.


Regional Partners:

  • CBOCES

  • OneMorgan County

  • Mexican Consulate

  • Morgan Family Center

  • Vuela by Health

  • SARA House

Regional Education & Training:

  • Primeros Auxilios para la Salud Mental (Mental First Aid Class)

  • Workplace Sexual Harassment (EEOC)


San Luis Valley On-The-Ground

This team supported workers from 8 different agricultural employers.

San Luis Valley has been a frontline battle ground against COVID for agricultural workers since April 2020. The outbreaks in the region was the initial spark that lit the promotora fire in this Southern Colorado valley. Now the team works diligently and passionately to provide widespread access to vaccine education and appointments for the community. COVID took tolls on this community, and keeping their community safe from it is the clear driver of their efforts.


The team here has been advocating for access to the vaccine for so long that health officials in this region opened vaccination to agricultural workers before the rest of the state. For example, on March 26th, Los Promotores del Valle de San Luis assisted with a COVID Vaccine Clinic in a farming area midway between Monte Vista and Center known as Sargent. It was hosted in conjunction with Rio Grande Public Health, Valley Wide Health Service, Colorado Potato Administrative Committee and SLV Health. The clinic was open to those who qualified in phases 1A to 1B4, however there was a focus on agricultural workers. Promotores served as translators, and assisted with planning and marketing of the clinic. In March and April, this team assisted with over 1,000 appointments for both agricultural workers and their community. Their work has been recognized by the governor’s office, read here.


San Luis Valley gets a large influx of H-2A and migrant workers in late April and May and aim to get ahead of any potential outbreaks in this region before this rapid growth of the workforce.


Regional Partners:

  • Boys and Girls Clubs

  • SLV Agriculture Coalition

  • Area Health Education Center (AHEC)

  • Alamosa HD

  • Rio Grande HD

  • Saguache County HD

  • Colorado Potato Administrative Committee

  • SLV COVID Testing & Vaccination Taskforce

  • CDPHE

  • Sacred Heart Catholic Church

  • Valley Wide Health Services

Regional Education & Training:

  • Farmworker Legal Rights & Outreach Training (Colorado Legal Services)


Southeast On-The-Ground

This team supported workers from 8 different agricultural employers.

Betty Velasquez, the regional organizer for Southeast, has leveraged various meetings with government and health agencies and elected officials to advocate for farmworkers and continued support for the work promotores are doing across the state.


Vaccination events in this region have successfully turned out hundreds of people, many via extensive in person, social media and word-of-mouth outreach conducted by the promotores. In March and April, this team assisted with over 400 appointments for both agricultural workers and their community.


Similar to the challenges in North subregion 1, this team faced lack of coordination from a partner agency in vaccine clinics. The team had spent a great deal of time spreading the word on the upcoming vaccine clinic, but the partner administering the vaccines changed plans late the evening before causing unnecessary work for our team. However, this challenge seems to be successfully avoided in subsequent events. Notably, the team’s organizing efforts has brought mobile clinics to Latinx communities across the region. The team often assists with outreach, distributing materials and providing translation services on the days of events. Their strategy has been to bring the mobile clinics and conduct outreach in ways that maximize the visibility of vaccinations in the community.


By the end of the month the region was beginning to see an influx of migrant, seasonal and H-2A workers for the pre-harvest work such as transplanting the seedling and weeding the fields.


Regional Partners:

  • FEMA

  • United Farm Workers (UFW)

  • Pueblo County Equity and Outreach Taskforce

  • SLV Ag Coalition

  • Pueblo Equity Task Force

  • Southern Colorado Farmworker Services Coalition Meeting

  • CDPHE

  • La Junta Parks & Recreation

  • City of La Junta

  • Local Churches

  • Valley Wide Health Services

  • East Otero School

Regional Education & Training:

  • Workplace Sexual Harassment (EEOC)

  • Farmworker Legal Rights & Outreach Training (Colorado Legal Services)


Western Slope 1 On-The-Ground

This team supported workers from 6 different agricultural employers.

Vaccination clinics have monopolized much of the Western Slope’s time. The team has responded to the deficiency of translation services by providing translation during many of the vaccination clinics and events in this region. While the team feels it is important work, it is also an indicator of health inequity for a region that regularly receives over 1,200 H-2A workers yearly and uncounted Latinx migrant and seasonal workers. In March and April, the team assisted with over 1,000 vaccine appointments for both agricultural workers and other members of their community.


This region also has faced extreme challenges and tragedies. In March, a woman contacted the team because her husband passed away and was struggling with handling the financial ramifications. As the woman was undocumented and her husband was agricultural worker, they had little to no knowledge or resources for handling the difficulties of his death, including the costs and process of returning his body and making funeral arrangements.


In April, another challenge surfaced as agricultural workers began approaching promotores with questions about tax situations and their stimulus checks. These conversations revealed a tax fraud scheme that targeted agricultural workers, scamming them out of their stimulus checks. The workers’ lack of knowledge about US systems and regulations made them more susceptible to being defrauded out of their stimulus checks. Brenda Villareal, the promotora responding to these inquiries, provided legal referrals and guidance on best practices for privacy and personal security. Importantly, as Brenda became more knowledgeable of the situation, she was better prepared to respond with resources and next steps for the workers. She helped them call the IRS and provided further explanation when workers needed further clarification or did not understand the information. Although workers remain trustful of promotores, they now are much more wary of accepting help from other organizations and resources and distrustful of others seeking to help them.


Regional Partners:

  • CDL Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Division

  • River Valley Health Center

  • Colorado Migrant and Rural Coalition

  • HEAT

Regional Education & Training: ..


Western Slope 2 On-The-Ground


This region covers Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Routt, Eagle, and Pikin counties. Understanding the need to expand to reach migrant range and herd workers in Northwest Colorado, the Network recruited a Regional Organizer, Patricia Maradiegue de Wagner, and a team of promotores and neighborhood organizers. In the coming months they will complete their initial training and begin conducting outreach for these often hard-to-reach workers. Stay tuned for the coming outreach, updates, and data!


Well-being is more than a Vaccinated Community

The Network continues work in communities harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccination events promoted or organized by those promotores on the ground continue - as does outreach centered around help in this pivotal time. Agricultural workers continue to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19, yet as the pandemic progresses and the Network develops relationships with those it serves, a more diverse set of topics is appearing. Recorded outreach mentions a range of issues that agricultural workers in the state face, increasingly focusing on: Internet Access; Driver’s Licensing & Transportation; Financial Assistance; and Housing. These additional topics of outreach show a necessary fact: even during a pandemic, well-being means far more than achieving herd immunity.

Examples abound in all the regions, as seen in the outreach events recorded by the Network. On the Western Slope, promotores continue to assist in the rampant fraud targeting agricultural workers and their stimulus and tax return checks. This situation is complicated by the reality of agricultural worker movements: in one case the victim was defrauded in Texas and was now without valuable resources in Colorado. This agricultural worker was able to receive help from the Network - but learned a chilling lesson about their vulnerabilities, summed up by Network promotora Brenda Tanori:


“They are really easily taken advantage of by other people. They need [to know] that they should never give out [their] personal information to anybody.”

Thus, well-being is more than receiving a check to help with financial issues - it’s knowledge of the threats one faces and one’s own vulnerabilities- it’s knowing about how personal information can be used, and having the privilege to keep it safe. In the case above, even when the agricultural worker received aid from the Network they were without transportation, facing another barrier to receiving just compensation. This single case highlights many deficiencies in the resiliency of this community.


For some, the pandemic exposed the challenges that agricultural workers face. However, the Network’s outreach continues to show that for agricultural workers across the state, protection from the COVID-19 virus is a single step towards prosperity. Well-being in these communities can only exist with a multi-faceted approach that involves the entirety of challenges faced and not bandages covering only the most recent wound.



This report was prepared by Kassandra Neiss and Mark Ludke, with contributions from Dolores del Campo, Alma Duarte, Cynthia Duarte, Rocio Franco, Soraya Leon, Patricia Maradiegue de Wagner, Angeles Mendez, Luis Murillo, Brenda Tanori, and Betty Velasquez.



May 14, 2021.


For more information, please contact:

Kassandra Neiss

Data Activist and Systems Manager | Frontline Farming

Kasey@FrontLineFarming.org




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