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Economic Impact of Swine Flu

El Nuevo Herald, Posted: May 02, 2009

MIAMI -- The swine flu crisis is likely to have economic, political and national security consequences, writes Andrs Oppenheimer in El Nuevo Herald. A sharp drop in the tourism, food and transportation industries could extend the global recession, and deepen Mexico's economic downturn. This, in turn, could increase illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States, which has been on the decline recently as a result of the U.S. recession. As it re-activates anti-immigration groups in the United States, the swine flu crisis could also complicate President Barack Obama's plans to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.

In Mexico, the swine flu epidemic could impede Mexico's battle against drug cartels as the government focuses almost entirely on the public health crisis. The president's daily meetings with his Cabinet's anti-drug national security team have been suspended, and troops in Mexico City have been deployed to give out face masks on the streets. The good news is that Mexico is attacking the problem head on. Contrary to China's slow and secretive response to the SARS crisis in 2002 -- the Chinese government took four months, until February 2003 to openly admit the crisis -- Mexico launched an aggressive education and mask distribution campaign last Friday, about six weeks after the first case was reported.

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