Trumpian Reciprocity in the Era of Covid-19

People wear face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, in Guatemala City, on March 16, 2020. (Photo: Johan Ordonez/AFP via Getty Images)

Trumpian Reciprocity in the Era of Covid-19

In the trumpeyed view of the world, it’s OK for the United States to send people infected with Covid-19 into other countries, but it’s not OK for people from foreign countries to enter the United States with that same infection.

"What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." -- A Proverb

Here is this week's question. What do they call us in Guatemala? Hint: It has something to do with China. Here is something else that has to do with China.

On April 18, 2020, during the trump's daily maunderings through the forest of his ignorance, he indulged his ambivalence towards the country presided over by his good friend, President Xi Jinping, going down the self-congratulatory path which is the only path he follows during these outings. Addressing Covid-19, and its entry into the United States, he reminded those in attendance that he "cut off China very early. And if I didn't we would have a chart that you wouldn't believe. . . .How would I know to do that? . . .People knew that some bad things were going on, and they got off to a late start. . . . but we cut off China. If we didn't cut off China, we would have been in some big trouble. And we cut it off."

That was, of course, not the trump's first self-admiring description of his actions. It was one of his daily dozens. On March 25 he proudly proclaimed that: "We're the ones that gave the great response, and we're the ones that kept China out of here. And if I didn't do it, you'd have thousands and thousands of people who've died-that are now living and happy." That was the trump version. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on January 21 it announced the first travel related case of the virus in the United States. It took the trump 10 days to impose limits on travel from China into the United States.

Enhancing the blame-game of which the trump is clearly the all-time champion, in his self-promotional appearance on April 18th he gave vent to the idea that perhaps China intentionally caused the outbreak of the virus saying: "Let's see what happens with their investigation. But we're doing investigations also. If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, then there should be consequences." Continuing his rambling he said: "Our relationship with China was good until they did this. The question was asked, 'would you be angry at China?' Well the answer might very well be a very resounding yes, but it depends: was it a mistake that got out of control, or was it done deliberately? There's a big difference between those two." The trump got that right. Ask Alejandro Giammattei. He is the president of Guatemala. Guatemala has been the beneficiary of the trump policies.

According to a report in the New York Times on April 19, 2020, the trumpsters have been engaged in aggressive immigration enforcement, deporting thousands to their home countries. Among those being deported were many infected with Covid-19. On April 20 it was reported that among the illegal immigrants being deported who were infected with Covid-19, were a number who had been sent back to Guatemala.

On April 13, 44 migrants on a flight from Brownsville Texas to Guatemala tested positive for the virus. On another trumpload of migrants flown into Guatemala from Trumpville, 12 individuals were affected with the virus. On another flight 75% of the passengers were infected.

The United States imposes restrictions on people entering the United States to insure that they are not infected with Covid-19. It does not impose the same restrictions on those it is deporting from the United States into other countries. In the trumpeyed view of the world, it's OK for the United States to send people infected with Covid-19 into other countries, but it's not OK for people from foreign countries to enter the United States with that same infection.

Before the trumpian sponsored influx of infected people into that country, Guatemala was already struggling with the effects of Covid-19. As of April 17 there were 235 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country, and 35 deaths were related to the virus. Ten per cent of the confirmed cases were persons seeking refuge in the United States who had been sent back to Guatemala by the trump.

In a speech on April 17th, President Giammattei adopted the approach taken by the trump with respect to planes arriving in the United States from China. He said no more deportation flights would be allowed to enter Guatemala until the United States could offer assurances that the passengers on the flights were free of the coronavirus.

Herewith the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this column. The question was: "What do they call us in Guatemala?" Here is the answer: Guatemala's Health Minister refers to the United States as the "Wuhan of the Americas." He got that right.

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