Check out this CNN report on swine flu realities down in the Mexico City metro, the capital's "veins." Karl Penhaul appears to take a few short trips between metros Bellas Artes and Hidalgo (stations I personally use almost daily), but he does capture the sense that the city must move to stay alive, even in the face of a never-before-seen epidemic.
One thing Penhaul mentions is that "all social classes" use the D.F. subway, but I'd say that's not very accurate. Many people in Mexico City actually take pride in the fact they do not take the metro, seeing the practice as far too beneath their class or social bearing.
Class barriers are omnipresent in the social body of Mexico, of course, and are making themselves apparent during the current swine flu crisis. Mayor Marcelo Ebrard is now defending his decision to shut down restaurants and public spaces in the capital, as a figure emerges of just how badly the city's paralysis is hurting the local economy. People rely on their salaries and tips in restaurants, theaters, sporting events, gyms, to live and provide for their families.
How will we live without pay?
In today's La Jornada, a clown who works the now-emptied Chapultepec Park wrote a letter to the editor asking if the municipal government's new influenza victim support fund would be open to him. Jose Antonio Herrera demands:
I'd like to know if, as a clown of the Bosque de Chapultepec, I will be helped by the support program for those affected by the influenza. Since I was unjustly fired from my job as a mailman, I work [at the park] and that's how I support my family. Now that it's closed, how will I feed them? Or is the fund only for business owners who do have money and were affected by the closure of their bars or restaurants? Or will I have to look to get sick to be able to support my family? Where do I have to go to get help?
Tourism to Mexico looks to be decimated by the swine flu outbreak. Airlines are canceling service, countries are asking to cut off all air travel to Mexico, and flight crews are outright refusing to fly here.
Meanwhile in D.F., it looks like Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova had another disastrous press conference last night, confusing reporters with conflicting swine flu figures. Interestingly, President Felipe Calderon met this morning with four ex-health secretaries. There will be word later this afternoon on that meeting's results.
* I'm still in Puebla, working, and watching. More later.