Waterloo

Luis Rubio

 There is no doubt that each government makes its own history, some by what they achieve, others by their dogmatism. If something characterizes the current Mexican government it is its total absence of the capacity (or willingness) to learn. The script is absolute and immoveable, regardless of whether the panorama changes radically, as occurred with the pandemic. The results of the government’s first year had already infallibly demonstrated the cost of the obstinacy: although a good part of the presidential campaign was devoted to criticizing the low growth rates (on average) of the economy and the intolerable corruption of the previous administration, the first year attained the milestone of diminishing the growth rate to negative and did nothing more than raise aloft and legitimize the corruption of its own stables. The second year was full of setbacks due to the pandemic without any change in the dogma.

After one year of nearly complete paralysis, and with the benefit of innumerable points of comparison around the world, the catastrophe comes into view. One need not be an expert to perceive that instead of a strategy, the government entertained an illusion: the hope that the pandemic would resolve itself on its own. Now, twelve months later, it does not even have a vaccination strategy. From the beginning of this unusual crisis, the government’s sole objective has been to tend to its political base with electoral ends. The country, and the rest of the population, would do well to pull themselves up by their bootstraps… In a word, there never was, nor is there at present, a health strategy. It took the president one year to learn exactly nothing.

The experts affirm that the risk of not advancing with vaccination at an accelerated rate is two-fold: on the one hand, Mexico would end up isolated from the world as a malodorous island, with which no one would wish to interact, which could even affect the exports, the country’s main source of income and economic growth. On the other hand, as Oxford University professor of globalization and development Ian Goldin says, “The longer this takes, the greater the risk of mutation which could render the vaccines impotent, as is already apparently happening in South Africa.” That is, continuing to do nothing implies the risk of a much more far-reaching crisis on the health front as well as on that of the economy. A catastrophe.

Of course, not everything is the government’s fault. The whole world is experiencing a problem of vaccine availability, to which one may add not very constructive responses -such as putting up walls in Europe- for overcoming the virus whose core feature is its ubiquity, that is, that it affects everyone and easily crosses borders. Furthermore, the European Union recently imposed controls on the exportation of vaccines, some which, like Pfizer’s, are produced for the whole world in its territory.

However, all of this is no excuse for the Mexican government’s lack of foresight. Its indolence has been such that there is no plan for vaccination other than the one developed and financed by Carlos Slim the AstraZeneca formula. Everything else has been managed on a case-by-case basis, leaving the country marginalized from the jab, and dependent on a process that, at least at this moment, is a seller’s market. Although many governments worldwide have suffered from the same incapacity to predict and anticipate the subsequent disease phases, what distinguishes Mexico’s government is its complete unwillingness to learn. The models for success are not a state secret: they are in view and numerous nations have been adapting to them when their plan of action exacts poor results. All governments except for that of Mexico, whose only mission is the coming elections.

The Mexican government blew the diagnosis, it became fixated on an unsuccessful strategy, communicated deficiently, and was bent on deception, did not foresee the acquisition of the vaccines, and still summons up the effrontery to state that “we’re doing well.”

The contradictions of the anti-COVID “strategy” are abundant. The government has made it evident that it has unmentionable objectives, none the less real for that reason, starting with the fact that their objective is not to resolve the matter of the pandemic but to emerge with its congressional majority in the midterms. From this have derived other objectives arising from that portentous indisposition for learning: which has not altered what appears to be the government’s real strategy since the beginning: to achieve “herd immunity” without the vaccine, even though this may well be an illusion, the latter implying that the loss of lives would continue burgeoning without limit.

Later, when the reality –the number of deaths- surpassed it (something it does not yet recognize), the government undertook a new adventure: give Uncle Sam a black eye. It is possible that the Chinese or Russian vaccines are in the end as effective as the others, but the circumstances suggest that the government decided to play at geopolitics by making mischief: purchasing vaccines from those who are challenging the U.S. in the big leagues. Needless to say, there’s nothing wrong with exercising a nation’s sovereignty, but this manner of taking action seems more a whiff of sixties student radicalism than a well-thought-out plan for the unfaltering stewardship of the country’s future development.

Waterloo was the definitive defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte and changed the history of Europe. If it were to continue where the present government is going, only the ineptitudes of the opposition could avoid a similar outcome.

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