H1N1-Swine Flu: The Perfect
Panacea for Political Dissent
2009 has been a year of endless wars and man made pestilence.
And 2010, looks like more of the same.
Pandemic emergencies have been invoked in failing or failed states
such as Mexico last spring, and more recently in Ukraine (Ukraines
Fantom flu, Foreign Policy, November 25, 2009).
Both states are in current internal turmoil and are basically
being kept afloat thanks to an IMF loan lifeline, or billions
in cash infusions. But these economic shots in the arms from the
IMF medics also seem to be accompanied by mass scare campaigns
fomented from the top and fear mongering techniques. There is
an odd coincidental timing between flu outbreaks and chronic political-
economic pandemonium. Are the authorities attempting to cow the
population into a state of submission? Or perhaps distract their
citizenry from their dismal daily lives, punctuated by falling
standards of living, corruption, rising crime and increasing administrative
incompetence to deal with these blights? Perhaps this is just
pure conjecture on my part but allow me to surmise this: the H1N1
flu outbreaks seem to be tool to tighten the governments
grip over its increasingly dissenting populace. This tool seems
to be an effective one.
H1N1: using syringes instead of truncheons and water cannons
to quell unrest?
For instance at the height of the Mexican swine flu crisis, the
capital Mexico City was virtually paralyzed and shut down due
to government decrees, which brought almost all economic and commercial
activity to a standstill . Many public venues were closed and
gathering places, (main squares, arenas etc. were ordered to be
off limits and all protest marches-demonstrations were summarily
cancelled). This took place amid a rising tide of narco gang drug
violence and growing discontent which posed a growing challenge
to the governments authority (much like the anti-communist
movement led by the outlawed Solidarity union in Poland
which led to the declaration of martial law in December of 1981
) and an ailing economy was reeling from the fall- out of the
global financial systems collapse. Temperatures were rising
political, the mood of rebellions was in the air and the Mexicans
tempers were flaring.
Then, just in time, somewhat suddenly the swine phantom appeared
and peoples minds were preoccupied with the deadly virus.
In view of the political tension, it appeared to be a brilliant
coup or weapon of massive distraction; a diversionary ploy orchestrated
by the authorities to clamp down on a restless populace impatiently
waiting for solutions to intractable problems. The Swine flu outbreak
allowed President Calderon to reassert his authority and reclaim
lost ground. After several days of invisibility in public, he
then emerged on television as a Churchillian leader. He rallied
the imperilled nation against this newly perceived threat: H1N1.
An evil foe, straight out of H.G Wells War of the
Worlds or from the horror fiction of Edgar Allen Poe The
Scarlet Death hovered menacingly over Mexico.
He cast himself as a fearless crusader; as almost a savoir of
the Mexican nation. His spin advisors and consultants cast him
as a valiant hero fighting a seemingly incurable and deadly enemy.
And act much like many strongmen with dictatorial tendencies such
as Franco, Petain as the protector of his people. Calderon in
the wake of H1N1 with lighting speed using emergency powers enacted
draconian new measures which gave sweeping powers to his army,
police and other state agencies associated with the use of force.
First Mexico, then Ukraine. Is Europe or North America next?
Health authorities in the bread and economic basket case of Ukraine
are using similar tactics which recall those employed by Mexicos
Calderon regime, during the swine flu scare. These wily moves
seem to be deliberately designed to intimidate the population
and thereby politicising their own Ukrainian version of the H1N1
health crisis. What for? Perhaps as a pretext to introduce repressive
measures at a very sensitive time politically and economically,
especially just ahead of the planned presidential elections next
January, 2010. The global swine flu outbreak has become
something of a political football in every country where the pandemic
has spread, but Ukraine's response to the virus has achieved a
new level of blatant politicization. According to a campaign advisor
to Yulia Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian prime minister and presidential
candidate purposely inflated fears of an ongoing swine-flu epidemic
to aid her presidential run (Ibid). The H1N1 outbreak might
be a crucial factor in determining who will be Ukraines
Furthermore, much like Mexico, Ukraines GDP has suffered
a sharp and dramatic contraction this year. In Kievs case
its 15 per cent (Mexicos GDP has declined around 8
percent during and after the swine flu crisis). And like its similarly
poor emerging market partner, in Latin America, Kiev
is in the process of obtaining further IMF funding or loans on
which its leadership survives and stays in power. So theres
nothing like a very nasty bug like the H1N1 to go around and make
everyone panic and forget all their woes and maybe even stay home
and not vote at all this January. That would probably suit the
Ukrainian authorities just fine.
January 4, 2010