[On May 2nd, 2009, our friend and colleague Valerio Evangelisti sent us a dispatch on the situation he's witnessing in Mexico. As we already told you, he lives half of the year in Puerto Escondido. The text was published on Carmilla, one of the most important Italian multi-author blogs. We quickly translated it into English, and here it goes.]
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico.
I’m writing from a country that seems to have sunk into madness. The place where I am, in the far south, has so far been spared by the “raging” swine flu which is causing great outcry in the world after the World Health Organization classified it at a level of dangerousness 5 on a scale 1 to 6. Despite the peace around me, every day I see people on TV traveling with blue masks on their faces, doctors giving advice to the population, politicians having their say (whatever their level of competence), supermarkets assaulted by hordes of customers amassing food supplies in the unlikely case of a famine.
All over the country public places have been closed for three days: archaeological sites, museums, cinemas and theaters, schools and universities, some government offices, many industrial plants. In Mexico City the ambitious mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who’s in perennial competition with the president of the district and the governor of the state, decided to be “more papist than the Pope” and ordered the complete closure of bars, restaurants, discos and nightclubs, all viewed as potential sites of disease. Shame that he forgot to close the subway, crowded by five million passengers every day, certainly more crowded than any restaurant. Public places were closed also in Acapulco and other cities where the flu hasn’t arrived at all. The president of the republic appeared on TV to recommend people to stay at home, across the country.
Why so much alarm? Let’s check the official figures and data of an epidemic so scary as to paralyse the whole Mexico, at the risk of destroying an economy that was already in a bad state.
On April 30 the infections due to swine flu were estimated at 99, with a total of 7 (SEVEN!) deaths by respiratory complications – ie by degeneration of bronchopneumonia.
Mexico has 100 million inhabitants, the capital (where half the cases were assessed) has 20 million. Given the proportions, there are more probabilities of someone drowning in a bathtub than anyone diying of swine flu.
Furthermore, it should be noted that every year “ordinary” flu entails an average of 1,600 deaths by respiratory complications in Mexico… and 26,000 in the United States!
Are you already figuring out the hoax?
Today, 1st of May, as I write, the usual morning briefing of the Mexican health authorities (perpetually accompanied by members of WHO) has begun with a reassuring announcement: the number of infected people has dropped to 121, deaths have dropped to 12 (twelve). It’s as if no one remembered the statements of the day before. And the lack of memory is not an exclusive of politicians and health bureaucrats: after Cuba and Argentina, Israel too has announced the suspension of all flights to Mexico – forgetting that there is no direct flight Israel-Mexico.
In short, it’s utter delirium. What happened of the 3,000 infected and 159 deaths announced on April 23, when the whole thing started? Simply, it was discovered they were mostly “ordinary” cases of flu, with the painful but inevitable deaths of people in high-risk categories. Anyway, the important thing is to put on the mask, distributed by the millions among the population, although it is too porous to stop the virus (both the ordinary and the “swiney” one), and the latter can survive in the air for only a few seconds. When questioned on this issue, the authorities admitted the futility of the mask (whose use is obsessively recommended on the TV) and said that this is just a way to “hearten the population.”
How come such a sporadic influence (cases are currently 331 worldwide ) has caused so much alarm? Because it occurred in April instead of the winter, is the first answer of the authorities. In fact, it is a dubious answer: between March and April, an outbreak of flu occurred in Italy, probably due the seesaw of warm days and cold days, and no one thought of blaming the pigs.
The authorities’ second answer: it is a virus of a “new” kind, a previously unknown virus, now called “A H1 N1″.
But if it’s new, why call it “swine flu”, when no Mexican pig is reported ill nor capable of infecting humans?
Because this flu reminds of a case of swine flu that occurred months ago… in the US!
And here perhaps we get to the root of the problem. In the US, there are 121 cases of swine flu, one or perhaps two with fatal course (those who say one allude to a Mexican boy who died in California, but they forget about an American adult who died last March). Despite this, the WHO doesn’t advise against traveling to California or New York (another site of infection), nor they prescribe to the US the stringent measures suggested to Mexico. Maybe there’s a reason. In 2005, under the presidency of Vicente Fox, there was a “joint operation” between the Mexican Ministry of Health and its counterparts in the other NAFTA countries, i.e. USA and Canada. They simulated an epidemic of swine flu in Mexico, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) provided instructions on how to behave in a case like that (all this I learned from a documentary that went on air last night as part of the program Los Reporteros of Televisa). When an abnormal outbreak of influence has occurred in Mexico, the local health authorities didn’t report to the fourteen Mexican laboratories capable of analysing the virus: they went directly to the CDC and the WHO, who immediately declared there was a pandemic and suggested an implementation of the measures recommended to Mexico three years earlier. Thus, there were only 7-12 dead and 130 cases of infection (real or imagined), and yet 100 million Mexicans have to walk around with the useless “heartening” masks or stay at home while their touristic industry goes to pieces. At the same time, Californian bars are regularly open and tourists circulate freely.
After the bird flu half-hoax, CDC and WHO (the latter is also hegemonised by the U.S.) strike again.
Only, this time it’s not bullshit: it’s pigshit.