February 16th, 2009
Mexico City Kiss-In (photo by AP)
Somehow Mexico City appears to be a big focus for me on the FLoG Blog this year, and so I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to highlight an article in Friday’s NY Times. With midterm elections coming up in July, Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has starting focusing on some more, ahem, interesting tactics to generate support from his constituents. The newest – free government distributed free Viagra, Cialis and Levitra (erectile dysfunction drugs) to poor men over 60. In announcing the plan and noting that many elderly people do not qualify for employer heath plans, the mayor said “Everyone has the right to be happy…They don’t have medical services, and a society that doesn’t care for its senior citizens has no dignity.”
Adding to the amorous spirit, this weekend for Valentine’s Day the government sponsored a “kiss-in”, in which just under 40,000 people gathered in the Zocalo main square to set the world record for the world’s largest group kiss. The event was meant to celebrate the holiday and “to show that warmth and love are at the core of this capital”, according to the City’s tourism department.
Now in a city that has been plagued with crime, efforts to encourage people to love rather than hate seem a conceptually nice idea. This is true particularly when contrasted with statistics stemming from a recent crackdown against drug traffickers that has led to widespread violence across the country. At least 6,000 people died in drug-related conflicts in Mexico in 2008.
Though the long term benefits of free Viagra and giant group kissing-fests seem dubious and more like politically transparent pandering than anything else, it remains to be seen what the response will be among the voters of Mexico City. And who knows, if tactics like these end up having some positive effect, perhaps we in the US might take a lesson and focus on a whole new type of stimulus plan. (Sorry – terrible pun. I just couldn’t resist.)