Mexican authorities angry over treatment of nationals
From what's being shown on TV reports here, seems like Mexicans are being held in medieval dungeons in China. Canadian students under H1N1 quarantine in that country may be getting good treatment, according to my colleague Bill Schiller, but not so Mexicans. Media reports here are full of what happened to an AeroMexico planeload of Mexicans who arrived on the weekend in Beijing, to be whisked by ambulance to a hotel and quarantined for swine flu. Last night, television reports showed conditions in one hotel with filthy bathrooms, no water, poor food and confinement so difficult, one woman said over the telephone: "We're being treated as if we have the plague." (I apologize for lack of TV links; I'm far from the capital and holding on to my Internet connection by a thread.)
The Mexican government has chartered an AeroMexico plane to rescue and estimated 70 tourists from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, opening up the flight to any Mexican who wants to get out of China. There will be huge celebrations when it arrives tomorrow afternoon at the international airport in the capital.
Anger has been building in this country for days over how Mexico is being treated. Several countries have cancelled flights - Peru, Ecuador, Cuba and Argentina. Cuba is a special irritant because Mexico has been one of the country's staunchest supporters against the U.S. embargo. Argentinian Ambassador Jorge Yoma apologized yesterday, but many Mexicans shrugged it off, believing (to generalize wildly) Argentinians feel superior to them at the best of times. There are reports of verbal aggression against Mexicans in the U.S. and officials refer to unwarranted discrimination and a special xenophobic paranoia against Mexicans abroad. There's a diplomatic row with China, with complaints yesterday at the United Nations.
These feelings of being discriminated against always seem close to the surface here - a sense the rest of the world doesn't regard Mexico or its citizens with respect. This will not be forgotten.
It is worth noting country-by-country media charts on swine flu reaction show the government of Canada has acted well, issuing only a travel advisory against travel to Mexico. President Felipe Calderon speaks often of co-operation with both U.S. President Barack Obama and PM Stephen Harper.
* * *
From my own swine flu coverage diary, Friday was a special day. Photographer Carlos Osorio and I arrived in Acapulco by the seat of our pants to file on Toronto Star deadline. Just as we signed on to the Internet at our hotel, an earthquake struck near Acapulco. Not serious in terms of loss of life, but it knocked us off the Internet. Naturally, I took it personally. Sure, said editors on the desk about my late file: an earthquake.
* * *
Now that things are returning to relative normality in this country - schools opening either tomorrow or next Monday - Mexicans can return to wrestling and boxing news and the soap opera craze that is so important. It's great, for example, to know Mexican-American boxing icon Cesar Chavez has launched a new energy drink.
Personally, I am thrilled Alma Rebelde has regained its rightful importance in life. I too agree Ana Cristina is as arrogant as she is beautiful.