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Juárez maquiladora supervisor dies of COVID-19 in El Paso

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Raul Rosales, a supervisor at a Lear Corporation maquiladora in Ciudad Juárez, died in an El Paso hospital of COVID-19 early Tuesday.

“My father became an angel this morning,” Monica Rosales said in announcing his death to family and friends on social media. The family had shared his COVID-19 battle earlier this week.

The 57-year-old had been on a ventilator since his family had him transported by ambulance April 11 from a hospital in Juárez to El Paso in a frantic attempt to save his life. He’s a legal permanent resident of the United states. His family lives in El Paso and his daughter is a U.S. citizen.

Rosales worked at the Lear Rio Bravo plant for eight years. He told his family he was in contact with a sick employee while on the job before the plant shut down at the end of March.

As his health worsened, Rosales sent texts to his family warning the number of COVID-19 deaths in Ciudad Juárez was much higher than what the government was reporting.

He also said six other Lear supervisors and managers were at the same private Juárez hospital where he was initially treated and as many as 20 employees at the Rio Bravo manufacturing plant where he worked had died. 

Lear Corporation makes automotive seating and electrical systems and employs 24,000 people at  10 facilities in Ciudad Juárez.

The Fortune 500 company based in Michigan with $21 billion is sales has repeatedly declined to provide an exact number of employees in Ciudad Juárez who have died or been sickened by COVID-19.

The rising COVID-19 death toll in Ciudad Juárez stands at 32, according to Chihuahua state health authorities. During  virtual press conferences officials have faced repeated questions about the possible role of multinational factories in a COVID-19 outbreak. 

Many of those sickened by COVID-19 are being treated at the Juárez Social Security hospital designated for workers in Mexico. 

“Given the overwhelming demand at the Social Security Mexican Institute, we have moved all those employees who were admitted to the government social security hospital IMSS #66, who were willing and able to be transferred, to private care facilities. Lear is covering all medical costs,” Lear said in a statement. 

Cover photo: Raul Rosales wore a shirt with a Lear logo at his wife Claudia’s 50th birthday celebration dinner in December. Rosales ws a quality control supervisor, at the Ciudad Juárez plant who died Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Monica Rosales)

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Angela Kocherga

Angela Kocherga is multimedia editor for El Paso Matters. She has dedicated her career as a journalist to reporting stories on both sides of the border for readers, viewers and public radio listeners. She previously served as Mexico City and Border Bureau Chief for a group of television stations. She also serves as news director at public radio KTEP. You can listen to stories by her on air at 88.5 FM and online at KTEP.org.

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