Friday, May 15, 2009

That's What Friends Are For

When we saw the headline "US earns Mexico's thanks over swine flu response" we sort of rolled our eyes and though, you know, maybe the US should be thanking Mexico, since things would have been a lot worse without the country's swift, possibly over-reactive response. But it turns out, that's not what the story is about at all. Mexico is genuinely grateful because we're one of the few countries that isn't treating Mexico like a 760,000-square-mile leper colony.

Swine flu has infected Mexico's relations with China and other countries that have canceled airline flights and halted some trade. But its most prickly neighbor — the United States — now seems like the country's most loyal friend.

Mexico is smarting from what it considers discriminatory actions by countries it had considered friendly, insisting the world should be grateful for its open and aggressive efforts to stem the spread of swine flu. The shutdown of public life cost Mexico $2.2 billion in the first 10 days after the epidemic was announced.

The government sent a plane to pick up 70 of its citizens quarantined in China. It rebuked Cuba, Ecuador, Argentina and Peru for banning flights to Mexico, saying they were acting "incongruously with our traditional ties of friendship."

France tried — and failed — to win a European Union-wide ban on flights to Mexico.

Particularly insulting for Mexico: Haiti rejected a Mexican ship last week carrying 77 tons of much-needed food aid because of swine flu fears.

All of that put the U.S. response in a very favorable light. Neither the United States nor Canada banned flights or restricted trade with Mexico. The three countries are partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

President Barack Obama forcefully rejected the idea of closing the border, despite arguments from conservative talk show hosts that swine flu showed immigration from Mexico was a threat.

This American-behaving-in-a-common-sense-way thing is definitely taking some getting used to.


Anonymous said...

Oh, so it's "we," now?

I suppose you said "we" won the world series after 86 year of frustration, too?

Fair weather fan.

Burro Hall said...

No, because I wasn't actually a member of the 2004 Red Sox. (Well, I was on waivers. It's a long story. I passed every subsequent urine test, though. You can look it up.)

And there's nothing like spending the week at Mexican immigration to remind a guy which team he plays for.