And the poor?


People in Mexico city are very worried. Deaths from the swine flu continue to rise. More frightening for many, the government is not telling them what is going on. Although the swine flu has been killing people for the last two weeks, the country was only told about the disease on Friday.

For the family of Oscar Perez who found out Friday that Oscar had the illness, it was too late to treat. He died the next morning. On Sunday they went to collect his remains at the crematorium. All Flu deaths must be cremated. Oscar’s grandmother lives in a small two room apartment in a poor neighborhood near the airport. She was angry with the government for not saving her boy, and refusing to give her family a vaccine against the virus. She was also angry that they waited so long to tell the public.

The government has refused to say which type of people have been affected most, besides the alarming fact that most are between 20-50 years old ( a sure sign of a pandemic). However, it is clear that the poor will be hit hardest. They have less access to health care and government information, less ability to advocate for themselves. They live closer together in more unsanitary conditions. While the government passes out the masks that everybody now wears to men in SUV’s it is unlikely they are doing so in the poorest neighborhoods.

During a visit to a hospital in Iztapalpa a poor neighborhood in the south of the city where gunshots rang out while I was interviewing a Doctor, it was clear that they were not prepared. Medical staff all stated different things about the disease, and what was being done. In the directors office, a few boxes of masks were piled next to a box of goggles. And on the door was a complaint by the health care union about the hospital failing to take care of its workers during the crisis.

Walking through the center on Saturday I was struck by how many beggars there were on the streets, every few blocks they held out their hands to the few people walking on the normally crowded streets. It took me a while to realize that there was always this many, I just couldn’t see them for the crowds of people.

Meanwhile wealthy residents chat on the Internet about getting cool surgical masks from Argentina, “I’ll risk going out to the concert without a mask,” one girl writes excitedly.

Throughout the city, street vendors beggars, window washers, and taxi drivers have not choice but to go out. Working for a smaller and smaller clientele. Living day to day, they have no back up money for a rainy day (let along a possible flu pandemic.


3 responses to “And the poor?

  1. Keep up the reporting! Great work, compelling photographs. I’m wondering if we will be seeing similar scenes in California soon.

    Stay healthy…

  2. Here in Guanajuato state, things a noticably quieter, the normally busy and crowded plazas, parks and food stalls have been much more tranquil over the past couple nights. Surgical masks, while not an uncommon sight even before this outbreak, are definitely more common now.
    As of today, schools are still open.

    Interesting that here in Mexico, the deaths caused by the swine flu have not been caused by the virus itself, but by the body’s immune response. In other words, the healthy body reacts to the threat of the virus, but this immune response causes inflations that basically shut down th body…so the healthy you are, the more likely you are to die…now that erie huh?…
    But it begs the questions; Do the healthy rich really have the advantage against this flu vs. the less healthy poor?

    As for the late release of information, keep in mind that the early cases were treated like regular flu infections…when regular treatments did not work, other less common treatments were used, when these did not work, someone finally asked the question; “Are we dealing with a completely new virus here, something we have never seen before?”…this takes time, thus the 2 week delay in releasing information…unfortunately, this does not help the early victims and my condolences go to their families.

  3. Very interesting to read Trevor. Keep up the good reporting, and be careful down there man. I am going to send out an email to my email list with a link to your blog so people can keep informed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s