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Baltimore journalist Pedro Palomino provides urgent coronavirus information to Spanish speakers

Journalist Pedro Palomino is keeping the Spanish-speaking community informed during the COVID-19 crisis through his Mundo Latino newspaper and his website.

Between arranging interviews and watching briefings by local politicians, Pedro Palomino sifts through his many emails and Facebook messages.

The head of a Spanish-language website and a print newspaper based in Baltimore, Palomino is a go-to source for people searching for answers as the coronavirus disrupts daily life. Where can I get tested for the virus? What do I do if I can’t pay rent?

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“I receive a lot of emails, a lot of questions from my people,” said Palomino, who works from his basement office at home in southwest Baltimore. “It’s a hard job for me, but I like it because [journalism] is my passion."

Others credit Palomino for using his platforms to provide sound information to the region’s Latino community, which has a disproportionately high rate of coronavirus infections.

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Palomino founded the website Somos Baltimore Latino in 2009, purchasing the newspaper Mundo Latino four years later. His Facebook page for Somos Baltimore Latino now features frequent posts about coronavirus and video interviews with experts.

Palomino’s work during the pandemic has helped counter misinformation that spreads on social media, said community activist Jesus Perez.

“It’s very hard to keep up with the information, and he has just been doing an awesome job making sure everyone is informed,” said Perez, an administrative assistant at Archbishop Borders School.

Journalist Pedro Palomino is helping keep the Spanish-speaking community informed during the coronavirus crisis through his Mundo Latino newspaper and SomosBaltimoreLatino.com.
Journalist Pedro Palomino is helping keep the Spanish-speaking community informed during the coronavirus crisis through his Mundo Latino newspaper and SomosBaltimoreLatino.com. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

Palomino, 59, had a career as a sports journalist in his native Peru. After coming to the United States 19 years ago, he worked a variety of jobs, from office cleaner to forklift driver.

In returning to his journalistic roots, Palomino wanted to address the need for local news coverage of Latinos. Many Spanish-language outlets focus more on national news, he said.

That local emphasis has been especially important during the pandemic, he said. As governments in Maryland gradually allow businesses to reopen, the rules are different in each place.

“The news is different in the city and in other counties,” Palomino said. “So people are confused about, ‘What news applies to my neighborhood?’”

He has partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in Baltimore for a regular Facebook video feature called “Tu Doctor y Tu Municipalidad" — Your Doctor and Your Municipality — with Dr. Kathleen Page, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins.

His work is particularly critical for people who live in areas where the local government has limited capacity to translate, said Catalina Rodriguez Lima, director of the immigrant affairs office.

“Pedro is one of the few local ... communicators with an emphasis on Spanish-speaking communities,” she said. "He does it statewide. He has a very, very large following.”

The Facebook page has more than 51,000 followers. On a recent day, it featured an interview with an immigration lawyer, a summary of a press conference by Gov. Larry Hogan and information about mail-in ballots for the presidential primary election.

“Pedro has that platform where he can reach a lot of people through one post,” Perez said. "People trust him.”

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