Where did the A (H1N1) flu come from? Residents of the Mexican town where the first case was diagnosed say that a US-owned factory just a few miles down the road, which produces 950,000 pigs a year, is to blame. A blogger from the area went to the factory to look into the conditions.
Only a week after the deadly virus hit the headlines, what we first knew as swine flu, and is now called influenza A (H1N1), remains quite some mystery to both scientists and the public. Where this pig/ bird/ human flu super virus came from remains unknown. But what we do know, is that around a month ago, a five-year-old boy, Edgar Hernandez, fell ill with what has now been diagnosed as the A (H1N1) virus, and is thought to be the first known victim. The boy survived, but following his illness, around 800 people in his tiny town, La Gloria, southwest Mexico, also fell ill with a mysterious flu. What we also know, is that a few miles down the road lies "Granjas Carroll", an enormous hog producer, majority-owned by multinational Smithfield Foods, and the United States's biggest pork supplier. The factory has long been the target of protests by locals, who have complained of contamination for over half a decade. Now, they're making the link between the pollution which comes from the farm and the origins of influenza A (H1N1). They say that around half the townspeople work in Mexico City during the week, which is how the virus was transmitted to the capital. Smithfield, however, denies the link. The company says no pig in the factory has been diagnosed with the flu and therefore no infection can have emerged from it.
"Pigs (…) drinking from a water source that contained their own blood and excrement"
César Augusto Vazquez Chagoya is from Velacruz, to the east of La Gloria. He prefers to remain anonymous. He originally posted this report on his own blog EnlaceVeracruz212.
The North American factory was set up in the Valle de Perote in 1994. A little under ten years after its construction, the communities that live around the ‘Granjas Carroll' factory found out that the company had been involved in a massive lawsuit for contamination and ensuing cover-up in their own land, Virginia, in the US. In light of their findings, they began to question the factory's link to the contamination of the local water source and the high number of illnesses in the area, which covers 30 thousand people. Despite protests and support from human rights groups, nothing was done, because the North American company enjoys support from the federal and regional authorities, who argued that the company was so technologically advanced it couldn't possibly be contaminating the area. They didn't mention that the pigs were unfit from excessive force feeding and drinking from a water source that contained their own blood and excrement.
The dumping lakes where excrement and blood arrives through these tubes.
A dead pig lies rotting in the lake.
Pig corpses left outside.
Pig corpses stacked onto a cart to be taken away.
The infamous bio-digester that is supposed to generate electricity [according to the company]. Above, pig corpses are piled into the cellar, and below, after they've been decomposed and ready to be used as fuel for electricity.
Barrels full of bacteria. In the close-up you can see that the barrell is covered with flies.
Continue reading César's report (in Spanish).