In response, Moreno said that several mariachis are rallying together through the Organization of Independent Mariachis of California. The group has managed to get other organizations to help them with food
“We put food aside for (mariachis) who need it the most,” Moreno said. “They give us milk, eggs, vegetables, ham and that helps us a lot.”
Some have also received financial help. Both Moreno and Reyes were part of the first group to receive a prepaid card for mariachis from the Community Power Collective (CPC), a nonprofit organization helping the needy.
Carmina Calderon, a community organizer, said that when the pandemic began, CPC focused on collecting financial aid for street vendors who were seriously affected when street sales were temporarily banned.
“But we realized that the mariachis were also in a very difficult situation, especially because many of them do not qualify for public aid,” Calderon said.
The group launched an online fundraiser benefiting the musicians and also used other grants.
Calderon said almost 160 mariachis signed up for financial support.
A survey showed many musicians have lost about 70% of their income due to performance cancellations. Some have managed to get part-time jobs as day laborers, but most are still waiting to play again.
“Many of them have problems paying their rent, others live in crowded conditions with more companions or are sleeping in their cars,” said Calderon. “Those who live alone here not only worry about paying their rent but also about sending money to their families in their countries.”
The organization gave the first round of cards loaded with $400 to 80 mariachis in July. A second round aimed at the remaining batch of mariachis is expected to be given out before Christmas.
Calderon said not enough funds have been raised from a GoFundMe account to support mariachis, so the cards probably will be just under $400.
Jacqueline Garcia is a reporter with La Opinión. This article is part of California Divide, a collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequity and economic survival in California.