*A special thank you to Frank Stonehouse for the following picture:
Mexico is rich in celebrations and known for its social and vibrant culture. The warmth in its people is present in each family gathering, party, wedding, and baby shower that everyone will so readily attend, uplifting the strong family values that are characteristic of this culture. Yet, under the current risks of coronavirus, how does such a social culture cope? And what can we expect from a country that what has in attitude, lacks in public health system efficiency and speedy government action?
Mexico is manifesting lower infection rates than the United States and Europe, but the numbers are steadily rising. Moreover, compared to the rest of Latin American countries, Mexico has been the slowest to react, and it was just a few weeks ago when the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was dismissing the virus and seen publicly hugging and kissing people. While Mexico is currently tracking cases, placing people in quarantine, closing schools, limiting travel, and sharing social distancing campaigns, there are still issues to be addressed. Such challenges include drug cartel riots, the 1.3 hospital bed per 1000 residents, and the inaccessibility to well-equipped hospitals for some communities in the mountainous regions of Tabasco, Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Guerrero. Nonetheless, both the authorities and population seem rather calm.
On the flip side, many citizens had an early reaction to coronavirus and began practicing social distancing in time. Families took their children out of school early and pressured schools to work only through online platforms. Meanwhile, various companies have also allowed their employees to work from home.
Even though most of us have been in isolation for three weeks, luckily all services such as water and electricity have continued to run smoothly. However, citizens are still preparing for the worst while displaying the same solidarity that has been present in previous catastrophes. For example, in the city of Morelia, people are already organizing food banks and planning distributions in case food shortages were to take place. I believe that these common goals, in addition to technology, have managed to keep our communities united, which will be a valuable asset in the face of crisis.
As to daily life in isolation, I have been amazed to see that social media is now truly social. Nowadays, platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Houseparty, and Netflix Party are part of our everyday lives, making it a little bit easier for this booming and extroverted country to find a little bit of connection. It is these same connections that make our lonely reality, with occasional panicked trips to the grocery store, more bearable. A reality that most of us, despite the country, know too well. Overall, the consequences of coronavirus in Mexico can be devastating, but the country rests optimistic. In light of current events, I hope that we can continue to stand side by side in an explicitly metaphorical way.