Caribbean: When Pigs Fly?

The idiom “when pigs fly” is not a popular one in the Caribbean these days as regional bloggers, like the rest of the world, keep a close eye on the Swine Flu threat.

Bloggers from Cuba, the regional territory geographically situated the closest to Mexico, where the outbreak appears to have originated, are understandably very interested in the latest developments. Circles Robinson, writing at Havana Times, seems confident in his country's ability to stave off the threat:

No cases of swine flu have been reported so far on the island. Over recent years Cuba has developed a system to face possible epidemics after the spread in some countries of bird flu.

The authorities recommended that the population ‘step up personal and collective hygiene including covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, frequently washing hands and maintaining cleanliness at homes and workplaces, as well as seeking medical attention when necessary.’

Experts are rushing to estimate just how dangerous the new Type A (H1N1) swine flu strain will be, gathering data on the outbreak in Mexico and other countries.

Cuba is known for its nationwide civil defense network that last year had to confront three powerful hurricanes.

Meanwhile, Along the Malecón, tongue firmly in cheek, says:

The Cuban government's ability to organize the masses and oblige people to comply comes in handy when trying to prevent an outbreak of disease. Authorities have proven that in their campaign against dengue fever, for instance.

The Cubans’ organizational skill also comes through whenever authorities need to prepare for a hurricane, stage a mass rally or bring out people to vote (Option A: Fidel. Option B: Fidel. Option C: Fidel).

I know, I know…Cubans have their own style of democracy.

Girl With a Purpose reports that the Jamaican government is taking no chances:

The Ministry of Health has put Jamaica on a Swine Flu Alert.

This means that all ports of entry to the island, are being watched carefully by Health officials, to identify travellers from Mexico, USA and Canada, who may be infected with the virus…there have been Health Desks set up at the island's two international airports…which are being manned by nurses.

The blogger herself appears to be following the Jamaican authorities’ lead: the rest of her post is chock full of practical information on protecting yourself against the disease.

Further away from the source of the outbreak is Guyana, although the country's close proximity to Colombia, which has reportedly identified a few cases of the outbreak within its borders, has blogger Imran Khan paying attention:

I do not believe that it is yet time to panic but certainly the 12 suspected cases of swine flu in Colombia must be cause for concern.

The Minister of Health says we have little to worry about but stay safe people. While once pork is thoroughly it should bring no harm you may want to consider what and where you eat. It may be the safest thing, as far as possible, to prepare your own food until this whole thing passes.

Bermuda's Catch a fire and Trinidad and Tobago's Coffeewallah, however, really feel for the Mexican people during this trying time. Catch a fire says that the last thing Mexico needed on top of the Swine Flu outbreak was an earthquake:

For a country already under extreme stress from the flu outbreak, especially its medical services, this is not exactly helpful. I am a bit unsure whether everyone staying at home is a good thing or not here – less people in crowded areas to be injured, but more chances of people being in buildings that could fall.

And the potential for this to accelerate the spread of the flu there is, well, its not a pretty thought at the moment.

Coffeewallah, who met the Mexican President at the recently concluded Fifth Summit of the Americas, adds:

Today I really feel for President Calderon…my heart is with him in Cuidad Mexico rocked by a 6.0 earthquake and ravaged by swine flu. Very Animal Farm, makes you wonder really if Mother Nature is exacting her revenge on us. That'll teach us stupid humans. The Mexican economy which was doing okay is now going to take a hit. Mexican products, tourism and people are taking a blow that is simply not fair, one hopes that they will weather this storm and come out the other side soon.

Vaya con dios mis amigos.

Barbados Free Press is already seeing the fallout that the outbreak is having on the local travel industry, but is realistic about the situation:

No man and no nation can control the wind, tides and the seas. And so it is with swine flu. Nothing that Barbados did contributed to the outbreak, and little that Barbados does will matter on an international scale. Our government has instituted a watch at Grantley Adams international Airport, but realistically that is about all that can be done.

But Abeni, who blogs from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is at the stage where she is dreaming about “pigs, virus giving pigs. Pigs contaminated with flu and gleefully infecting us all”:

Everywhere I looked people were wearing masks as if Soufriere had erupted and we had to protect ourselves from sulphur and ash. I saw long lines at the hospital looking for vaccines that were either nonexistent or insufficient to meet the demands. Disappointed persons could be heard wondering aloud if corilla and other forms of bush medicine were strong enough to fight off this threat. Meantime, visions of Stephen King's The Stand were dancing in my head.

Then I woke up and first thing on the television was news that this flu thing cannot be contained. Now I'm wondering if my island has the capacity to handle it should it arrive on our shores.

Barbadian diaspora blogger Doan Mind Me, on the other hand, seems unconcerned, writing a humourously quirky post – which he calls the “book of Pork-etry” – suggesting, with a vigourous nod to George Orwell‘s Animal Farm, that the swine of the world are somehow getting their comeuppance:

Chapter 12…
2. For were not the swine saved also by Noah in his ark at the bequest of the Lord? And if then swine be so unclean why did God choose at that moment to not smite us or choose not to have us drown or become extinct like the dinosaurs or the dodos? (Gotcha!)…
6. And in later days when religion started to hold less sway in the world and the world became more secular, and the cows were stricken by the deadly Jacob Crutzfeldt, there was hope that our ribs, succulent bacon and pigtails would find a new niche and finally be recognized for the value that they hold.
7. But there arose ones called nutritionists and health food fanatics and other heretics to continue with the crusade against our flesh saying pork is unhealthy and our meat was not readily digestible and other such obscene lies which made the people afraid and turned the people even further against us.
8. But alas enough is enough for vengeance is thine saith the lord and is he not lord of all swine-don (as opposed to all Swindon which I think is a spot in the UK).
9. So verily it came to me hence in a vision. The time for revenge is nigh on hand.
10. Let them again blame us for this swine flu but let all shudder in fear…
12. And there arose a great noise like the terror of an intense thunderstorm as the assembled hosts oinked loudly in support and the council of swine-don murmured in appreciation of the oration of Napoleon and approved of his idea to use the swine flu as a weapon against the anti-swine-ites and the haters of ham.
13. And so it came to pass.

The thumbnail image used in this post, “Flying Pig Records”, is by ArielAmanda, used under a Creative Commons license. Visit ArielAmanda's flickr photostream.


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