By what I've so far read on the newspapers, it is beginning to be clear that the Mexican government knew about the swine flu outbreak threat (confirmed death toll: 20 by now) since at least the middle of April, if not earlier— there's an article that states the private hospitals were warned about the possible threat and began to take measures since the beginning of the year.
...And yet, the Mexican government failed to warn Barack Obama or postpone his visit!
Not only that, but at the reception diner held in his onor at the National Mseum of Anthropology, he spent a considerable amount of time personally greeting —and shaking hands with— many of the guest attendants gathered for such illustrious occasion.
But wait, it gets worse:
On April 16th, Mexican Archeologist Felipe Solís greeted President Obama at the museum, where he let him admire the magnificent Aztec calendar before attending the reception diner where his guests were already gathered —among the guests were the super-wealthy business man Carlos Slim, and the Nobel prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, to name a few.
The next day, Solís began to feel an infection in his threat as well as chest pains; according to his collaborators, he dismissed it as a common cold. A mistake that turned out to be fatal.
The next Saturday he was rushed to the Metropolitan Hospital, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. The next day his condition worsened and became more dangerous due to the diabetes he had been suffering for some years. He fell into a coma and died(*) on Wednesday.
After his visit on Mexico, Obama travelled to Trinidad to meet the Statement of all Latin America; as always he showed courtesy and diplomacy, and even dared to shake hands with Hugo Chavez. The summit was considered a tremendous success by all the political analysts of the region.
Was Solís infected with the new swine flu virus? it is too early to say at this moment; an autopsy should definitely be performed.
Was Obama carelessly exposed to the virus? Again it is too early to say (**)
Would he have come to Mexico had he known about the outbreak situation beforehand? I think I don't even have to answer that one.
For my part, the level of outrage and embarrassment I feel is indescribable. Here we are, trying to creae a new relationship with the United States that helps us fight the drug cartels and solve the issues of climate change and illegal immigration, and yet we fail to inform our ally about his tiny health problem that could turn into a pandemic of catastrophic proportions.
I guess all those conservative pundits were right after all: Obama shaking hands with Chávez was a reckless gesture... for Chávez! :-(
(*) My apologies for including articles in Spanish, but at the moment this article is not mentioned in the English-speaking media; I'm sure that later on the articles will appear (in fact, I guarantee it).
(**)Manuel Camacho Solís, a Mexican politician who is the former regent of Mexico city & MIGHT have been a guest at the reception diner —so far I haven't found his name mentioned on the reception dinner reports— was admitted to a private city hospital with a case of pneumonia and a confirmed swine flu infection.
[UPDATE: April 26th]: he head of the Health Secretary, José Angel Córdova, dismissed that the director of the National Museum of Anthropology —Felipe Solís— had died because of the swine flu virus. he assured the media the Solís, who served as the host of Obama during the reception diner held at the museum, died because of a pneumonia related to a previous disease.
Carlos Tena Tamayo, the Medical Director of the ISSTE —That's the Social Security Institute for State workers & beurocrats— wrote in a letter that Solís died because of a pneumonia aggravated by a previous sickness of diabetes, low levels of the inmmune system & hypertension.
On his letter, Tamayo explains that "the cause of death was a pneumonia bacterial origin (probably kebsiella) which doesn't have the characteristics of a viral infection".
I still would like an independent authopsy, just to be sure.
The White House has also dismissed the possibility that president Obama would have been exposed to the swine flu virus —nevertheless, I'm sure they are pretty pissed with the Mexicans.
Steve Padilla writes about this on his LA Times blog. CBS News has also covered this story.
Meanwhile, Mexican politician Manuel Camacho Solís is fully recovering from the flu infection, and he will be coming out of the hospital in a couple of days.
This unforgivable mistake on behalf of the Mexican government could spawn all sorts of conspiracy theories —"maybe someone in the US knew about the swine flu outbreak threat before Obama visited mexico, so why didn't they warn him? Were they trying to get rid of him???" you know the drill— Even if there's plenty of indication that there are a lot of people in high seats of the government who are not particularly loyal to Obama, we should try to approach these events soberly and not get too carried away. At this moment, I still think that the Mexican authorities were careless not to inform the hite House & the Secret Service about the possible threat of the swine flu outbreak. I mean, wha's the point on turning the hotel where obama stayed into an impenetrable bunker, if the man is exposed to a microscopic danger from unsuspected allies? I don't see a conspiracy here; I see stupidity.
... And you know what else? all this has suddenly made me think abou that stunt Bill Gates pulled off at the TED conference, where he released a bunch of mosquitoes to the audience, saying that "there's no reason why only the poor should contract Malaria" —the mosquitoes were not carrying Malaria of course, but it was a really good punch line.
So, I guess there's also no reason whatsoever why the most powerful man in the world shouldn't be exposed once in a while to a dangerous epidemic outbreak, either! :-P