Saturday, May 09, 2009

From the Plague-zone: Bring out your dead!

Mexican newspapers are bloodthirsty. What they really love is a good car crash – some twisted, smoking metal with a bleeding, near-dead victim inside... Super! That will make the front page every time. Dead bodies are pretty good too – especially if there’s some guts. There was a big gang-shooting incident just after Christmas and the local Newspaper had five, executed corpses on the front page the next morning. Great.

I have a friend here who used to work as a Journalist in Mexico City and she told me that after an Earthquake that she covered, the Mexican Authorities had no qualms about inviting Journo’s into the hospital to shoot photos and video at the bedsides of victims. She also tells me she’s been allowed in Prisons and into numerous ‘high risk’ situations.

So this is why it seems very odd to me that after several weeks of being in the epicentre of the Global Flu Pandemic I have yet to see a picture of a victim. Who are these people? What were their names? If we can’t have pictures of them, then why not some of the families they left behind? If they were Mexican be assured they left an extensive family behind! Where are these people?

Playa del Carmen is a tourist town, the area was not very well populated before the tourism was developed so most of people who live here come from elsewhere in the country, and most of them come from Mexico City.

I know of no one, who knows of anyone who has had swine flu. Obviously Mexico City is a big place – but it’s odd that out of over a 1000 (allegedly) victims, all of whom have families, all of who have friends... that no one has met or heard of anyone who has it? Surely some one would know some one whose friend had an Aunt whose cousin’s boyfriend was sick?

I read an article recently, which said that three years ago the US Govt bought 1 billion Swine Flu vaccinations in preparation for the Avian Flu Pandemic. These Vaccines have a shelf life of three years. Gosh, what a spot of luck - how convenient.

So how is the Plague-zone? Well you know those towns in Spagetti Westerns with the tumbleweed drifting down the main street?

Nah! Don’t be silly, it’s not quite like that! But the streets are quiet.

Last week a few people were wearing masks. The staff in the Supermarkets still are, but no one else is bothering any more. Most people think the Pandemic has been fabricated or at least greatly exaggerated. So we’re all pretty relaxed about the health aspects.

The bad news is that most of the tourists have cancelled. The hotel where I work is down to 23% capacity at the moment and I have had 2 customers this week. Very few people get a salary. Like me, most people work for commission – so there’s gonna be some tumbleweed drifting through my next pay packet, I suspect. Two hotels in Cancun have already closed down. There are rumours that other places might too. The future is not bright. The foreign, transient workers, like me, can leave (and many are) - but for the Mexicans with mortgages and children to feed, this is a nightmare. It's not as if we were having a great season anyway - with all the economic woes in Europe and the US.

So if this was some little scheme to sell off all those unwanted vaccines - then I hope that someone in the Mexican Govt will get a new house out of this! Or perhaps the US Aid package to Mexico will be significantly increased this year? I hope that at least some of the 'Pay Off' goes to the Mexican people and not all of it into some Politicians’ pocket.

Mostly though, it's the Press who have created this situation. In a bid to sell a few more Newspapers, 1 case became 'over 100 suspected cases...' and each reported death becomes '200 suspected deaths...' I thought the Media was supposed to report the News, not attempt to create it.

So I hope when the Editors get their fat bonuses, they spare a thought for the people who will end up paying.


Anonymous said...

How do we get these blogs of yours into places where they can be read en masse??


outside-jane said...

Well there's this Interweb thingy which quite a lot of people seem to be using - I thought I might put them on that... oh, hang on! Where am I?