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Notebook: Mexicans unveil the mask

Text by Battiste FENWICK

Latest update : 2009-05-06

The swine flu crisis has stabilised these past few days in Mexico City. Many people have stopped wearing their masks. The time may have come to evaluate the government's job in its handling of the crisis.

The health crisis has stabilised these past few days in Mexico City. Many people have stopped wearing their masks. Relieved, they are finally able to take a breath of fresh air. Now, as life seems to be slowly coming back to normal, it's time to evaluate the government's job in its handling of the crisis. Were the preventive measures imposed by the Mexican federal government during the state of alert justified?

Rafael Segura confesses he never really liked President Felipe Calderon's government in the first place. According to Rafael, the government's miscalculation of the danger of the H1N1 virus was one error too many; there was no need to take such drastic measures. He doesn't hesitate to point his finger at the one he calls "the incompetent". "I am furious at the president," Segura says. "He lied to his people about the gravity of the flu."

Although somewhat more moderate, Maricarmen's views are similar: the federal government did not do a good job handling the H1N1 crisis. "For about twenty deaths and a few hundred sick people, the government decided to paralyze the entire country. There are going to be serious economic consequences. That is why I think the sanitary measures the government imposed were way over the top."

Luci Martinez (main picture) sells cigarettes and candy on a street corner. For more than thirty years, she has been selling her goods in front of the Durango Hospital. She makes most of her money from what the hospital staff buys from her. Her business has severely suffered this past week. She estimates that she lost more than half of the money she should have made. However, Luci is optimistic about the future of her business, as well as for the future of other Mexicans. As for her appreciation of the government's handling of the crisis, Luci has a unique point of view. "The problem is not with the government but with the people. The virus spread because people lack good hygiene. I am in contact with people all the time, and let me tell you: they are filthy! That's what needs to change!"

Luis Roberto has just dropped his daughter off at the hospital. Fortunately, the ear infection she contracted has nothing to do with the H1N1 virus. Roberto understands and approves of the government's handling of the crisis. "Health should come first. Always. The government was right to impose such drastic measures, regardless of the economic backlash. Our priority is to get rid of this virus, once and for all, whether it takes us a week or a year!"


Date created : 2009-05-06