Latin music icon Marc Anthony is set to kick off the first virtual music festival to raise money for the Farmworkers' COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Fund and help nearly 3 million farmworkers who have served as essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic, according to event organizers.
The "Altisimo Live!" benefit concert, which will be co-hosted by actress and producer Eva Longoria, will be livestreamed on Cinco de Mayo, Tuesday, starting with a tailgate at 3 p.m. ET and musical performances at 7 p.m. ET.
The concert counts with an all-star Latino lineup which includes music legends such as Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Maná, Los Tigres del Norte, Juanes, Carlos Vives, Gloria Trevi, Los Lobos and Alejandro Sanz, as well as chart-topping artists such as J Balvin, Maluma, Anitta, Luis Fonsi, Sech, reggaeton duo Wisin y Yandel, boy band CNCO, Nicky Jam, Becky G., Tainy and Elvis Crespo.
Latino celebrities such as actors Andy Garcia, Diane Guerrero, Kate Del Castillo, Rosario Dawson, Sofia Vergara, Luis Guzmán, Edward James Olmos, comedian Cristela Alonzo and many other artists are also set to participate in the history-making event, according to concert producers.
Labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta and her daughter, Camila Chavez, executive director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, will also participate in the event.
"This is an endeavor of incredible heart for an incredible cause that automatically just touches everyone's hearts because we know that our farmworkers are often overlooked," said Manny Ruiz, co-creator of "Altisimo Live!" and one of the concert's executive producers. "This is the time to change that."
The coronavirus crisis prompted renewed attention to farmworkers’ critical role as people initially found empty supermarket shelves cleaned out by those stockpiling food supplies and sheltering in place.
"Farmworkers are the heart of our food supply chain. If farmworkers are not well and cannot do their work, then we all face grave danger," said Monica Ramirez, founder and president of the advocacy group Justice for Migrant Women. "Farmworkers nourish our nation and with this event we are helping to nourish the spirits of our community. Farmworkers want us all to know that it is important, that they be supported to continue to go to work."
For this reason, Justice for Migrant Women joined the organization Hispanics in Philanthropy in creating the Farmworkers’ Pandemic Relief Fund to help farmworkers satisfy some of their most basic needs. Donations are to be disbursed to farmworker-serving organizations around the U.S. and Puerto Rico to provide food, formula, diapers, emergency financial assistance for medical needs and other support during the pandemic.
Ramirez said that food insecurity and lack of protective gear in the fields are some of the issues farmworkers are dealing with during the pandemic.
Ramona DeLoera of the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project in Florida , which provides services to migrant farmworkers and their children, said farmworkers in her community "are lining up at food banks and are being turned away because there's not enough food for everyone."
"We are risking our health and our lives to keep food on the tables and in grocery stores for other families across this country and yet we are struggling to feed our own families," DeLoera said.
The nearly $3 trillion stimulus package to combat the coronavirus helped many families, but excluded many farmworkers.
At least 50 percent of all farmworkers are undocumented, according to United Farm Workers. Even though the government considers them essential workers, they will most likely be ineligible for the relief payment most U.S. households will receive. DeLoera is now calling on "Congress to include support for farmworkers in the next bill."
The Economic Policy Institute, a think tank dedicated to promoting the interests of workers in economic policy debates, recommends that farm employers "provide adequate safety equipment" such as masks and gloves as well as "ways to disinfect their hands, tools, clothing and machinery."
They also suggest farmers use social distancing measures to keep workers safe, "even if some safety measures reduce productivity," and "provide health insurance and paid sick days."
Dozens of organizations such as the Coalition of Florida Farmworker Organizations, the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project and The United Farm Workers Foundation are among those expected to receive donations.
"We feel a huge sense of urgency to try to move as quickly as we can to provide basic relief to the farmworker community and to ensure that we put as many measures in place to keep farmworkers from getting sick," Ramirez said.
Other musical guests include Steve Aoki, Italian trio Il Volo, Farruko, Lila Downs, La Energia Norteña, Fonseca, Frankie Negrón, Ivy Queen, Justin Quiles, Larry Hernandez, Sandra Echevarria, Howie D of The Backstreet Boys and Tito Puente, Jr. Musical duos Gente De Zona, Jesse & Joy and Zion y Lennox are also set to perform.
"People want to be a part of this. A lot of artists do not want to be left out and we think that's going to bring up the value just to a whole other epic level," Ruiz said.