I've got more information from my friend Paula McDonald about the background of the start of this virus. She lives in Puerto Escondido, a coastal fishing village in southern Mexico. San Diegans know her as a longtime writer and photographer who covered Baja from Rosarito. Smithfield is the largest hog producer in the world with 40,000 pigs in cramped pens on site at the La Gloria, Veracruz site near Jalapa (Xalapa) where the first Swine Flu case started. That first case, btw, is the kid you see on all the U.S. newscasts now known as Patient One or Swine One or whatever they're calling him. About five years old and interviewed these last three days about as often as Elian Gonzalez.
Those Smithfield pigs produce 800,000 kilos of pig meat annually in La Gloria. Evidently, the pig excrement problem is beyond imagination. It's kept in giant in-ground vats, like swimming pools, covered with plastic tarps. (And then what do they do with it?) Smithfield was fined in 1984 in the U.S. for water contamination, and opened the Mexican site about 15 minutes after the NAFTA Treaty was signed.
The investigative reporters down here are nosing around into allegations that local officials have been paid off to issue certificates of compliance with local clean water regulations...etc. and look the other way. And, the governor of Veracruz, to this very minute, is claiming this child was the only case of Swine Flu in the state, even though hundreds of people in La Gloria got sick in February, were treated with anti-virus medications quietly by Smithfield, and then spread it to Mexico City and the world. As I said the other night, if Smithfield had reported it immediately to the World Health Organization or even to the Mexican health authorities, we wouldn't be facing the possibilities of a pandemic.
Oh, btw, the governor of Veracruz is up for reelection in a very tough fight. He can't admit that his state totally blew it by also not catching or reporting this or he's dead meat in the campaign. Hmmm...bad analogy.
This just in from my buddy in Boston:
>>>I, too, had heard about the multinational pork corporation polluting the epicenter town (from a friend who suggested we call it Capitalist Pig Virus).
Capitalist Pig Virus!
Anyway, that's the news from the south. Mexico City is all blue masks and empty streets. Only one mask in town here, in our funny surfer town where all that seems to matter is whether surf's up or not. That's my friend, a local hotel owner, who when I last saw her was standing on the street barefoot, yelling at her straying poodle mutt and wearing it on her head like a New Year's hat.