Barcelona, Spain. March 29, 2020. Combating COVID-19 with resilience. Cheik, Alaide Gnag, Buso, Bay, Aladie, Usuman, Madoqui, Dauda, Baylat, Lô, Matar are some African people living in Spain working together to collaborate during this coronavirus pandemic. The manteros of the Popular Union of Street Vendors and the Top Manta brand have turned the store they have in the Barcelona neighborhood of Raval into a sewing workshop to produce gowns and masks for Catalan hospitals. The health sector has denounced the lack of resources to face the crisis, but there are other groups even more precarious that carry out essential and unskilled tasks, such as care or the distribution and collection of food. Mostly migrants; many, undocumented. The manteros of the Popular Union of Street Vendors and the Top Manta brand have turned the store they have in the Barcelona neighborhood of Raval into a sewing workshop to produce robes and masks for Catalan hospitals.
The manteros are in a very delicate situation due to the Covid-19 crisis. Those who work in blankets have lost their jobs and are having great difficulty paying for their rents and accessing the most basic products. Faced with the deprivation of rights, this group has responded with solidarity. The members of this union have redirected their production: if they used to make textiles for their brand ‘Top Manta’, now they make robes and "thousands of masks" that they are already sending to Catalan hospitals. In addition, like unions in other autonomous communities, they collect donations and basic foodstuffs through their Facebook account. They do it to "help people totally excluded from the labor and social system".
Workers have adapted the space, in addition to following "all the rules on occupational risks derived from the coronavirus" but some of them have been stopped by the police becouse of documents. Many social measures have come out, but the institutions have not talked about helping people selling on the street. The #SinCitasNoHayDerechos campaign has recently made visible an administrative crisis prior to the health crisis, that of appointments at the Immigration Offices. Migrants must wait up to two years to regularize their situation due to the lack of administrative personnel in these institutions or buy an appointment from mafias that resell them at an exorbitant price. Meanwhile, they do not have a residence permit - they can be locked up and deported - nor a work permit, among other deprivations of rights.