Tuesday, March 31, 2020

At the movies...

Right now it's a bit like almost every country in the world is trying to watch a movie in slow motion expecting it to be over sooner than if they had watched it at full speed.  

They all want to get to the end so they can talk about it with their friends and neighbours, but everyone started watching at different times and at different speeds.  

The Chinese are already thinking about which movie to put on next. 

Monday, March 30, 2020

A Plague On Both Your Houses

The hard right and the hard left both have an aversion to plagues. 

In the case of the former it’s largely down to the collective consciousness (and response) they tend to elicit. Meanwhile, the ideological left is anchored by Marxist doctrine which offers only two possible pathways to social progress: class struggle is the standard shortcut, but over the longer term inevitable, in-built tendencies in the economic and political ‘superstructure’ will tend to do the job. 

Not nasty, random, micro-biological bugs. 

John Hatcher didn't teach me on a one-on-one basis at Cambridge, though I attended his lectures and was supervised out of Caius for my first Lent term by his key protegé Dr Mark Bailey, who was then playing on the wing for England (Rugby Union), and coincidentally went on to become High Master at SPS. 

Along with Hatcher, he was pursuing a self-consciously non-ideological, data-driven approach to medieval society and politics. 

Hatcher in particular took on the (mostly French) Marxist historians by insisting that the massive adjustments to the social order after the Black Death were a direct consequence of it: e.g. a shortage of labour significantly changed the balance of power as far as the rural poor were concerned, with lasting consequences for most western European societies. 

As a result, the rump of Marxist scholars have been reduced to trying to prove that the Black Death didn't really kill all that many people. Yet the data says otherwise. Mortality was almost uniformly around 50% across the old world, across the board. 

Yet this presents another problem for historians. Bubonic Plague is spread by the fleas of rodents in which infection is endemic. Yet rats were not so evenly spread around medieval Europe as the effects of the plague rather clearly were. Something else was going on - pneumonic plague perhaps - but the truth is we just don’t know and possibly never will. 

In this fascinating book Hatcher dips below the data to semi-fictionalise the personal experiences of English villagers in 1348. 

Did you get the memo?

Someone didn't.

My copy said that no commercial activity of any kind, with the now familiar and limited exceptions, was to continue at any time of the day. 

After 4pm even those exceptions were then to cease and desist, though another part of the document handled the need for urgent medical/pharmaceutical assistance separately. 

Yet this morning, standing in my garden, I could tune into the monotonous hum of local cottage industry. Plus the rustling occasioned by the poles of next door's pool cleaners when they connect with my fence and its foliage. Pool cleaners! 

And a friend sent me this pic from the parque earlier this morning. Payday and creeping complacency. 

"Today scared me. The banks were insane. I estimate MAYBE 2 in 10 people were using masks. People were one foot apart in bank lines. Crowds of 20 maskless people were standing around in the park and on the streets. It was insanity," he wrote. 

This state of affairs has left even the Prensa Libre confused. They point out that the Prez doesn't appear to have read his own memo carefully enough, because during last night's address he said it was still OK for his imaginary friend Doña Chona to continue to operate as long as she uses a mascarilla and provides alcohol gel...and presumably also keeps her pink unicorns indoors. 

Meanwhile, this sort of 'civil disobedience', which I predicted some time ago, ought to be clamped down on pretty quickly, because it is only going to get worse over the course of the next fortnight. 

Coronavirus Rhapsody


Restrictions have been tightened in Guatemala, with the new rules coming into effect from tomorrow, Monday 30th. 

Alcohol can now no longer be purchased or consumed after 3pm. 

And even deliveries, including take-aways, will now be limited to between 4am and 4pm. 

Though this part is less than 100% clear, it must be said. Prensa Libre details what I just stated (based on this morning's communication, below), while El Periodico suggests there has been no alteration to the existing guidelines. 

The PNC are probably too busy spreading another kind of virus to know or care what they are actually meant to be doing. (Seriously, WTF? Whatever happened to the estado laico? )

Something did loosen: Municipal Markets can now remain in action until 1pm. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Watch out for the white pyjamas...

Those of us that speak Spanish should take the time to view last night's press conference from CDMX, from start to finish. It's an education. 

Though I suspect that many local viewers had disappeared off to buy toilet rolls after the first five minutes or so.

I've seen more covered faces when they present a recently-captured narco. The audience at least appear to have grasped the basics of social distancing. It's an extraordinary show. Scientifically, medically precise, yet politically woolly in the extreme. 

Unlike Trump, these guys are being pretty transparent about the difference between SARS-CoV-2 infection and Covid-19 disease. 

Dr Hugo López Gatell, designated smartest guy in the room, possibly also in all of Mexico at this time, generally spoke sin pelos en la lengua, as they say, except when the subject of the President or the measures taken up to yesterday were discussed. 

There was some over-elaborate hand-washing (and not the sort we have all been asked to practice) citing compliance with WHO guidelines and some unconvincingly definitive conclusions on the contagiousness of those that have the virus, but not the sickness. 

He also had an awkward @anncoulter moment when he was speaking in front of an infographic that was saying something completely different to what was coming out of his mouth. 

How convenient that the pre-symptomatic aren't spreaders. Lucky old AMLO. They must never sneeze, cough, rub their faces, bite their nails. That's what I'd call a viral load of old cobblers. 

The lady in the box doing the signing was severing her own jugular symbolically a worrying number of times. 

And that Canciller chappie on the right should be placed in immediate quarantine for the benefit of clear and truthful communications. At one point even Hugo there was giving him the stink eye. 

What about the borders? And what a load of piffle about the airports remaining open so stranded Mexicans could be repatriated. 

He then started making some not very apropos remarks about working with the UN to prevent an international medical conflict  in effect a drug war, though not of the kind the country has been embroiled in for the past decade. 

Overall a bizarre blend of the clear-cut and granular with the utterly vague. Everyone except those with a vital role in the 'sustento nacional' (national wellbeing) is to stay at home (x3), yet the decision as to how important they are in this respect is to be left to each and every individual. 

Devolved responsibility again. It's voluntary. So, yoga classes galore. 

I have to say that the spectacle of Mexico carrying on as normal had been equal parts disturbing and oddly reassuring. As with Boris’s brief flirtation with ‘herd immunity’, which he must now be regretting, it seemed to leave open the possibility of another way. 

Like it or not, executive leadership is often defined by single key moments. I think we can now discount the possibility that AMLO will be outlived by a load of streets named in his honour. He has failed spectacularly, historically, and along the way possibly damaged the cause of progressive government in Mexico. 

Major Tom to Ground Control

Starting to feel like an astronaut out in deep space fondly remembering life back on Earth...

Heading in the wrong direction.

Curfew to continue in Guatemala until April 12. 

Baby steps still from Giammattei, but with neighbours to the north and south both now in a 30 day lockdown we will be compelled to synchronise even though our own medidas masivas kicked off a little earlier in the process. 

The President probably needed to erect a bit of a concrete dome on top of Semana Santa, which was already threatening to leak out into the atmosphere. 

The UK announced today that it’s own measures will be extended ‘for a significant period’, while yesterday the Governor of California suggested a time frame of 3 months is now most likely. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Meanwhile, down south...

Chile now has 1909 cases. 

Local businesses say up to 80% will fail if this all goes on for more than three months. 

Piñera has even more trouble than Giammattei with recusant diputados opposed to following up the lockdown with any sort of financial assistance for the unemployed. 

The anti-facho contingent must be a bit conflicted right now, as indeed should anyone be who is habitually committed to civil liberties. 

300 have been arrested for curfew violations, thus far. (Not quite the levels that Guatemala has witnessed, relatively-speaking.)

Chile’s referendum and constituent assembly have been pushed back from April to October, something the government and opposition were able to agree on. 

They also seem to be taking the need for additional psychological clinics as seriously as emergency field hospitals. 

There are pumas on the streets of Santiago. 

Yesterday in Guatemala two foreigners with suspected covid-19 were found dead in a house on the Carretera a El Salvador. It has to be said that facial-cranial trauma was not one of the 'mild symptoms' that I was previously aware of. 

Lies, damned lies and...

In a video address from outside his big, second floor office at the Ayuntamiento yesterday, Victor Hugo reminded us that 80% of Antigua’s economy is tourism-dependent which means, he added, that 80% of the population is directly affected by the current downturn. 

Well, no it doesn’t. The two proportions may well be semi-accurate after all, but the one does not follow from the other. 

I do hope our mayor understands this, because a grasp of statistics like this was always going to be an integral part of the job, and now it could almost be a life and death matter. 

It’s quite possible that 60% of panza verdes could live quite comfortably on 30% of the tourist revenue seen in the past, for example. (Off the top if my head, with no claim for accuracy.) 

For local GDP, as elsewhere in Guatemala, was never particularly evenly spread. 

And yet, there’s a case to be made that as near as dammit to 100% will be directly affected, if not equally so. 

On the plus side, the Muni have indeed been analysing the needs of the population against some rather crucial metrics, and have concluded that 1200 families fall into the urgent need of assistance category.*

* UPDATE: This has in fact been delegated down to the alcaldes auxiliares, so here at least, we’re probably fucked. This was a job for conscientious professionals, not rank amateurs. Like any of the surrounding villages, we have numerous households that tend to be a rather complex mix of cases: struggling small business owners, the newly unemployed, the old and infirm, longer-term indigents, bottom feeders and so on. Sorting out who gets the despensa will not be an easy task. 

Things to do in self-isolation (2)

I’m reading Austen. Wasn’t part of the plan, but now I’ve started, I can’t let up. 

We’ve somehow managed to avoid ordering take-away, probably for the better, though opinion is divided on how hazardous a practice this could be

There’s been something of a re-flowering of the bewildered bikes; perhaps the curve peaks Friday-Sunday. When you're having to be a bit of a huevón 24-7, the arrival of an actual weekend possibly provides some relief from the sheer guilt of it all. 

One local eatery, known affectionately to locals as Patas Arriba — perhaps because it soon will be — has started advertising items on its menu as the scientifically-proven prophylactic deterrent against covid-19

This may not be an on-the-books delito, yet in a nation as credulous as this, it possibly ought to be. (I suppose any establishment willing to use a dead rodent as the emblem of its kitchen, heads off to the races with a bit of a handicap.)

There’s questionable taste and then there’s the sort of thing that unquestionably makes you want to repeatedly scrub your hands. 

Meanwhile, a family group just passed outside, dad in almost full Cassandra Crossing hazmat (minus the sub-machinegun) , mum and one daughter a bit more ninja and the other daughter could have been trying to blend in on the streets of Kabul. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Harry Potter approach

Boris says that thanks to the 'wizardry' of modern technology, he can continue to run the country from his sick-bed with covid-19

Digital tech is apparently plugging some gaps (home schooling for example) in an effective manner, which in certain instances may presage a new normal, post-pandemic. 

However, I was genuinely disheartened to listen to this defiantly up-beat post from the mistress of my college, Susan J Smith

Surely no amount of wizardry can make up for a lost last term at Cambridge. 

I sense some unfairness in this. 

Just like the stalled Premier League season must surely be allowed to run to its conclusion whenever possible, there is a potent argument against this sort of fudge. 

Liverpool have waited 'aeons' for this title and similarly, the current set of undergrads approaching their finals will have invested three precious years in a process, the denouement of which is often the most cherish-able. 

Why put the needs of those yet to matriculate  next year's intake  before those with unfinished business of graduation and everything that can be crammed (collectively) into an Easter term. 

If even the IOC and Japan can (albeit) grudgingly propose to hold 'Tokyo 2020' in 2021, Cantab can find a way to resolve this, even if it means shortening term breaks or finding extra accommodation. 

The University has been through this before during the wars. No wizardry then. It shouldn't be used now as an unconvincing pretext by them, or indeed by Boris. 

No redemption...

Things to do in self-isolation (1)

I had been thinking of preparing a sort of photo montage of all the bewildered motorbike delivery riders from our security cams, but like the mass ejaculation of a coral reef, this eye-catching phenomenon has proved rather short lived. 

So now I am 'reduced' to people in masks, people not in masks, plus the occasional curfew breaker. 

We had one pretty spectacular example of the latter yesterday...

A bloke on a bike in an advanced state of inebriation trying to make it somewhere/anywhere before 4pm. He zig-zagged alarmingly across the cobbled street on our flank before hitting the curb at a 90 degree angle and dismounting involuntarily. (This one may have to be a video...) 

He waited a bit and then attempted to continue, but his front wheel was now somewhat lacking in roundness and off he went again, this time sideways into some tall bamboo, disappearing completely for several minutes.  

And repeat. 

A car stopped and a man emerged. A knight errant? No, someone after an amusing pic. 

Shortly afterwards another (maskless) woman appeared and led the stricken cyclist off south by the arm, seemingly just in the nick of time. 

But later, after dark, he repeatedly re-appeared, alone in the village but for the hungry street-dogs, still visibly wobbly and now sans vélo, probing a variety of different exit options, at some risk of spending the night in police custody.

"As long as the dark side flows through the cracks of my flesh, I cannot be killed.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Healing

Seeing the immediate and fairly extraordinary response to Boris’s call for NHS volunteers has cheered me. 

After the thrill of London 2012 I’ve had to watch, from afar, as profound and largely unprecedented social and political rifts opened up across British society, aggravated by two referendums. 

It is somewhat ironic that the virus could now play a significant role in the healing, yet the underlying cultural raw material of re-unification may be remarkably similar to that which tore us apart. 

Spitfires may not, for example, be a symbol that speaks of coming back together with them Germans, but the national mythology they sit within very definitely speaks of solidarity in extreme adversity, so I see the possibility that the faux-nostalgic mindset that has fed division since the referendums, might now help restore cohesiveness.

Generations of Brits have quietly hankered for a meaningful challenge as great as the one faced by those that went through the world wars.  


Salary/Salario: We get these words from Salarium, the Latin for a Roman soldier’s salt allowance.

After all, people need to kill babosas as well as eat, don’t they?

Boom and bust

It’s intriguing how key members of the populist right like Bannon want to maintain the squeeze on covid-19, while the small state conservatives and libertarians, plus Trump (hotels, resorts, casinos) want to let go as soon as poss. 

Libertarians in particular have developed an unusually visible concern for the very poor and members of the informal economy. I suppose they dread the spectacle of (undeniably necessary) state handouts.

But here’s the thing, the relative difference between just getting by and not is dwarfed by the gulf between boom and bust...and the accompanying sensation of it. 

Both in the US, and here in Central America, the pressure to ignore the scientific advice will come strongest from those who feel their power and privilege waning. And they will couch their selfishness in the language of ersatz empathy. 

Testing, testing

Guatemala has a lab test. 

Test 'kits' as such are said to retail for around $3000. The CDC is aiming to release (a potentially less accurate) one soon for $40.

Germany is testing live people, so Germany is detecting more asymptomatic spreaders, and thus has an apparently lower overall mortality rate.

Italy is conducting post-mortem tests and thus finding that more people have died from covid-19 complications than they might otherwise have been aware of. Hence in part their notably higher death rate.

The key thing about testing is that it allows one to acquire an understanding of how widespread the infection may have already spread in the general population, and hence how important it is to maintain the lockdown.

Otherwise it's just guesswork.

30 days more...

#Silverlining: the pigeon problem really does seem to be resolving itself. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Local Disruptions

I've been writing about the potential for unusually disruptive effects of the pandemic on our local economy. This is an example that presented itself to me this morning. 

A gringo refugee export service, run by a clothing company, not one of the (presumably) idle travel agencies. 

I wonder why they have chosen the El Carmen exit. If I were keen to leave right now I'd prefer to enter Chiapas via La Mesilla for the simple reason that Tuxtla has additional flight options and is closer to bigger cities like Mérida. 

Hats off to Jake of Pappy's BBQ. In the space of a week he has gutsily overhauled his business model to confront the new situation. 

If he'd been pitching it in the Dragons' Den last week and then come back seven days later all the basics like costs, revenue, prices and profit would have been updated. 

In the same period some of his competitors haven't even bothered to refresh their menus. 

There's much more to this than new packaging. There's clearly some novel accounting, marketing and thinking behind it, which could save the firm from the need to join all the lemmings currently filling the streets with disorientated motos

And it has a multi-faceted potential for imperishability lacking in some of those short-termist, headless chicken deliveries. 

No guarantee of success and all sorts of pandemic-driven risk factors remain, but he’s given himself as good a shot as anyone. 

This Uber Eats rider appeared to have collected an old crone and was quite widely spotted (and commented upon) around the area. 

The legacy of an epidemic

So, if US politcians are now pondering a sacrifice of the old in the interests of the young and the economy, they ought not to forget that it’s the boomers that have most of the capital and that they could change their wills to leave it all to animal shelters.

The UN General secretary António Guterres has tweeted asking combatants all around the world to lay down their arms and come together to fight the pandemic. 

I was up in the middle of the night, and was not alone it seems. Others wrote of 'collective insomnia'. The enveloping silence did seem rather loud, and there also was a bit of a tremor. This set me wondering what would happen should a more geographically-limited and sizeable catastrophe occur somewhere right now (fire, quake, tsunami etc.). 

Just as we appear to have the capacity to come together as a global community, we are actually entering a phase where our ability to respond as such beyond the pandemic is reaching null. 

500 people were arrested on day one of the curfew in Guatemala for ignoring it. There were scenes reminiscent of a Bruce Lee film occurring in Dueñas as cops took on the recusants. Who knew the PMT could do kung fu? 

Hands up, you’re surrounded

One of the most cognitively dissonant aspects of my Instagram feed right now is the way in which life appears to be carrying on more or less as normal just to the north of us in Mexico. Open borders, busy restaurants, packed beaches. 

For the brave stands taken by Presidents Giammattei of Guatemala and Bukele of El Salvador contrast starkly with the blasé approach adopted by AMLO, accompanied by some fairly reprehensible bollocks on the matter of Mexican exceptionalism. 

In the medium term, perhaps the greatest challenge facing our little part of the so-called northern triangle is the way that covid-19 is already raging relatively out of control to our south (Panama, Costa Rica) and how the rate of infection is ramping up noticeably in Mexico beneath its leader’s insouciance. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Collateral Damage

Both my father and my grandmother died from hospital-acquired pneumonia, aged 89.

The current global statistics covering coronavirus mortality are almost certainly incorporating many more cases such as theirs, but in Guatemala I suspect that we are going to see numerous instances of people dying from treatable chronic diseases, ostensibly un-related to covid-19, simply because the more limited healthcare system here is no longer able to function as it should.

Simultaneously, large numbers of people with so-called underlying conditions are going to end up with pneumonia because their conditions worsen under lockdown and they are dispatched to overcrowded hospitals.

This is a society that anyway appears to treat the over 65s as if they are living on borrowed time.

Flamethrowers and mobile hairdressers

Angry alcaldes have become a thing in Italy. 

Our region now has its own ejemplar: Lic. Betancourt of Ciudad Vieja who, unlike Victor Hugo, understands that #quedateencasa need not apply to him. 

Finally someone who gets the difference between closing time and curfew time. 

Time and money to burn

This morning we were tempted to order breakfast in bed from one of Antigua’s leading hotels. 

This is actually a thing. And it is SO wrong. 

At one point yesterday morning pretty much the only vehicles on the streets around us were motorbikes delivering impulse nibbles. Some sported backpacks, others were trying to ride the bike whilst holding heavy plastic bags with one hand. 

As the alcaldes of other townships have resorted to sealing (soldering in fact) potential quarantine violators inside their own homes, Antigua’s own Mayor gave an address from his sofa (said to be in Cayalá) that lasted less than half a minute. He looked sheepish. 

There’s no doubt he’s been sipping from the poison chalice and that he can expect little gratification now from a four year term that began with so much expectation. 

There have been some token gestures, such as the new rubbish collection protocols. But if these workers are now forbidden from entering and engaging in up close personal contact with homeowners, what of all the couriers?

A friend in Ohio reports how his local vets are now operating: "Credit card only, call in the parking lot and they hand the meds over on a tray through your car window." 

Here there is a general imprecision still in the measures and the language being used to implement them which will tend to foster pandemic pandemonium. 

Businesses that were from the outset set up to serve international visitors are turning inward and seeking out local consumers in order to survive and this is going to impact the lives of those who were already just about getting by in servicing the local market. 

Historically the most lasting impact of plagues has been a set of changes in the balance of power at many levels of society.

As I noted yesterday, Antigua may soon recover, but it won’t be the same place. 

If the current free-for-all persists unmoderated, then it is inevitable that the comparatively weak will be eased aside by the politically and economically stronger. 

Just here in our village I can see how our local shops and panaderías in particular are struggling against new competitors prepared to operate at a loss like Silicon Valley start-ups. 

Speaking of which, Uber proposes to operate right up to the moment the curfew alarm sounds. Though I guess if you order one just before 4pm, you're going to have to show the driver your spare room. 

Caught in the middle of this power struggle are those whose economic power is time-limited. They are almost certainly operating at a loss right now, but don't have a pack of optimistic shareholders ready to chuck them a load of cash to burn whenever they need it. 

And fairly soon people are going to realise that this is not a short term thing. Trump may be dangling the possibility of an ah fuckit approach in 15 days, but the UK government has asked for emergency powers in law for two whole years (with a review in six months). 

Soon the novelty of breakfast in bed will wear off as the community as a whole starts to tighten its belt. And the croissants will be getting staler. 

El lugar de los hechos...

My Corona

And to think, only a month ago we thought pigeons were a problem...

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Cookies to go...

Come to Guatemala (sometime soon) to study selfishness, both rational and irrational. 

Yet there is also selflessness of the sort that will ultimately deny the likes of Gloria Álvarez a serious tilt at the presidency. 

This Cambrian explosion of motorcycle couriers we are witnessing in Antigua right now might be characterised as a rebaño of rational egotists, but surely not all the voluntary bomberos, nurses, doctors and so on who are working around the clock to prevent a real catastrophe here fit the category. 

Even Giammattei, clearly exhausted, is acting out of the sort of altruism and public-spiritedness that Ayn Randites cannot explain away. 

The President was right to devolve final responsibility of implementing his measures to the alcaldes and right now Victor Hugo needs to GET A GRIP. 

There is nowhere in Guatemala with the same per capita level of different food options and this undoubtedly presents a special challenge. 

What's the point of staying indoors if you are going to start receiving half a dozen different deliveries a day? 

Even the churro parlours are offering home delivery now FFS. 

Our Mayor needs to dictate what is essential food and what isn't. Everyone else gets to offer collection/takeaway-only, which is the default position in London for example. 

And the existing high volume food deliverers should surely have been given first dibs at this new 'opportunity', being allowed to reach capacity before a limited number of additional restaurants serving stuff of actual nutritional value were permitted to join in. 

Con los calzones a media asta...

Reset the clock, whispers my inner Bond villain. 

It's hard not to empathise with those little fishies suddenly rediscovering the canal waters of Venice. 

Yet, however much my wife and I would like Antigua to go back to being the nice quiet place where we met 31 years ago (and we really would), not even a calamity like the novel coronavirus is capable of such a rollback. 

There’s no doubt that a more eerie form of quietness will be with us for a while. International travel is set for one of those U-shaped recoveries and many businesses in town won’t make it out of the trough of the curve. 

During his online ‘Keeping Antigua Alive’ presentation last week, Blake Thurgood of Pappy’s BBQ noted that even before the current crisis, he and other SME-owners in the city had calculated that a generalised 50% drop in income could knock out around 80% of local businesses, a scenario that must surely now be in play. The look in his eyes as he spoke told me it was so. 

However, that doesn’t mean that all these businesses will vanish and we’ll be transported back to the land of milk and honey. (Moscas y Miel to be exact.) The more likely outcome is that they are resurrected on the far side of the coronavirus canyon, under new, more solvent ownership. Possibly even bigger a-holes to boot.

The likes of Pappy’s and Sobremesa are run by hard-working hybrid families that have gone out of their way to connect with the local community, and although in truth I am yet to visit either of them, they are precisely the sort that I would like to see pull through. 

But too many others have treated Antigua like a bolo lying on the pavement with banknotes sticking out of his back pocket. 

Front end and back end, Antigua has allowed itself to over-commercialise across the board. An the prostitution of the city starts with the local landlords. We’ve been wondering how many of these will now jump in to pick up the pieces and try to run the consumer-facing operations themselves. 

Saying all this does not however make me a paid-up member of the conservative tendency in this city. Just before Semana Santa was called off there was a rising clamour against the commercial initiatives that Victor Hugo and his crew had prepared for Lent: the sale of TV rights, the printing of t-shirts, the advertising banners on lamp-posts etc. 

All rather moot now, but one would have to be naïve to imagine that an impecunious municipality is just what we need at the heart of a rejuvenated urban space. 

Those die-hard panza verde conservatives have been their own worst enemies. They need to shut up a bit about ‘Patrimonio Cultural de la Humanidad’ and focus on proper planning. 

'Preserving' the casco antiguo whilst allowing it to become an open air mall is possibly the main reason Antigua has recently felt like a town that is slowly having the air sucked out of it. 

Casa si, calle no...

Who’s driving the boat?

Bukele just declared a 30 day national 'quarantine' in El Salvador. Sounds a little less goose-steppy than a curfew, but it's basically the same thing and we will soon probably be falling in line. 

Our own toque de queda did seem a bit quantum at first, but just after 4pm the village was inundated by PMT motorbikes and vans ostensibly enforcing it. 

Giammattei is doing it in baby steps, but the direction is clear. 

What colour will his jacket be tomorrow?

Curfew seems to have completely the opposite meaning for cats. 

Que alguién me explíque: If the only people allowed to 'circulate' are couriers delivering medicine and food, who's working back at the pharmacies and preparing the food? (A variant of the 'Who's driving the boat?' conundrum from Act 3 of Taken.