Covid-19, Mexico and Turkey: parallels

October 17, 2020

Compared with Mexico, Turkey is a less extensive country, about 784 thousand square kilometers, and with less population, 84 million inhabitants, most of whom profess the Muslim religion. Its official figures regarding the pandemic are just over 9,000 deaths and 340,000 infected, of the latter, approximately 40,000 are workers in the health sector. So the differences between the two countries, in the aforementioned aspects, are evident.

However, there are important similarities that have recently been revealed in the way their respective governments have approached the challenge of the pandemic. In both cases, there has been a shameful disqualification of the recommended public policies, over and over again, by those who have proven epidemiological experience to determine how to contain the infections. A few weeks ago we witnessed, here in our country, the self-confidence and mocking tone with which the Undersecretary of Health, Hugo López-Gatell, commented on the document presented by six prestigious former Health Secretaries, a document in which The measures necessary to implement to break the macabre cycle of infections and deaths from coronavirus that afflict us were detailed. The disdain of López-Gatell and his superiors – the secretary Alcocer and the President of the Republic himself – towards the observations of the aforementioned experts will undoubtedly remain in history as a sign of the capital irresponsibility of the current government in the fundamental mission of preserve the life and health of Mexicans.

Well, very similar situation is currently registered in Turkey, where last Wednesday President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned, in front of the congressmen of his party, the AKP, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB, for its acronym in Turkish), putting in question not only her experience in the health area, but even the honorability of her recently elected leader, a doctor with the last name Fincanci, whom she pointed out as linked to terrorist groups. And it is that the aforementioned Association has been insistently criticizing the official approach to the epidemic, calling for a stricter management of sanitary measures. He has also questioned the transparency of the information in this regard, maintaining that there is a significant under-registration of infections and deaths to hide the magnitude of the health crisis that is being experienced.

Thus, the Turkish government has declared war on the TTB. A deputy from a party allied to the AKP, surnamed Bahceli, expressed in the parliamentary chamber last October 6 that “our problem is a handful of enemies of Turkey who have embedded themselves in the central committee of the TTB… for which I say that the TTB must be closed ”. And days later Erdogan proposed legislation to restructure it through a decentralization similar to the one he recently imposed on the Lawyers Association with the intention of diluting his criticism and his condemnation of various areas of government leadership.

A few facts about Dr. Fincanci illustrate why she is such an uncomfortable figure for the Erdogan regime. Before assuming her current position at the TTB, she worked as a forensic doctor, documenting cases of torture and human rights violations until in 2016 she was arrested on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda. She was acquitted by a court in July 2019 and currently also heads the Turkish Human Rights Foundation. Clearly for the Erdogan government, which since the failed coup in 2016 has jailed tens of thousands of dissidents, shut down or seized independent media outlets, and maneuvered to concentrate more and more power in their hands. and perpetuate themselves as much as possible in the position of first president, Dr. Fincanci and her colleagues are part of the group of their adversaries, who must be removed from the game at any cost.

A couple of months ago, Francis Fukuyama expressed, in an interview on CNN, that the governments that were obtaining the worst results in the fight against COVID-19 were, above all, the populists. He cited the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico as examples. Turkey undoubtedly has a better record in the face of the pandemic than the four aforementioned nations, although it undoubtedly resembles them in the government’s contempt for the knowledge of experts in the interests of satisfying current political needs.

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