Mexico City, April 26, 2009. - Sunday Afternoon Dream at the Alameda is one of Diego Rivera's most famous murals in Mexico City. It depicts a typical festival on a Sunday afternoon at the Alameda Park at the turn of the 20th century. 100 years later in 2009, the city has lost its lively atmosphere, it has become a Sunday Afternoon Nightmare; Mexico, one of the world's largest cities has lost its color, its noise, its fiesta. This afternoon, empty taxis wandered on its two main avenues, Reforma and Insurgentes, almost begging for a passenger.
Restaurants, bars, movies, soccer matches even catholic parishes were empty. In two very popular neighborhoods out of hundreds, Del Valle and La Condesa, streets were empty and you were able to hear the birds tweet. Mexico City's majestic Olympic venues, its museums and the sole castle in the Americas, Chapultepec among many others, with their emptiness, became accomplices of making the city seem as a "Ghost Megalopolis", something only before seen in movies.
Even though, it's huge airport kept busy. The silence in town made you listen and pay attention to the daily regular jumbo-jet-line-up for landing, coming in from places like Madrid, Shanghai, Sao Paulo or New York. From the very few people on the streets and on public transportations, the sight of about 20% of them wearing surgical masks made it seem ghoulish.
The new flu strain, made up of human, avian and swine strains, combined in pigs who act as a "mixing vessels" has been able to infect humans. The scare has gone global, even though there have been less than 30 confirmed deaths in Mexico to this specific strain and other suspicious 60, there are confirmed cases in the U. S. A., Canada and New Zealand and suspected cases in Spain, Scotland, Colombia, France, the U. K., Australia and Israel. Even Mexico City's Tourism Board brand new slogan "Ciudad de Mexico: Besame mucho" (Mexico City: Kiss me, lots) has become a victim of the outbreak in view of the authorities campaign for avoiding human contact and large gatherings.
This Sunday afternoon, the city's major is conferencing with the local business and industrial associations in order to slow human contact to a minimum while avoiding full shut down. Over 10,000 schools from day care to college have already been shut down for 10 days as well as non-essential and entertainment venues.
A half billion U. S. dollars have been made available from Mexico's National Emergency Fund. Only the U. S. A. and Spain have offered to help. The army and other local and federal forces are in the streets enforcing the closures and helping hand out free surgical masks. The Federal Government has been empowered with emergency temporary rulings to fight the outbreak which include the limited affecting of some human rights. Preparedness for an avian flu strike has helped a lot as there is a stock of one million doses of anti-flu medicine in public hospitals. Sunday Afternoon Nightmare in the Alameda.