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No good deed goes completely unnoticed

2 February 2015


With the measles outbreak in the United States, caused by some misguided belief in individual “druthers” taking precedence over social necessity — and self-indulgence (and stupidity) given as a rationale by those who would endanger others — let us now praise famous men.

Carlos IV was a terrible king, an incompetent boob, but worthy of the largest lost-wax sculpture in the Americas for one reason… the one commemorated here (and presently undergoing restoration of a botched restoration):

Notice he isn’t carrying a sword or a baton… but a scroll. What Tolsa’s monumental “El Cabalito” memorializes is Carlos’ decree that his subjects be vaccinated. Carlos’ one competent act was sending the a fleet carrying smallpox vaccine and Dr. Jaime Balmis in 1804 to carry vaccine (and to train health workers and soldiers) throughout the Empire. It was the first public health campaign in history, and it’s a shame the only recognition of that huge step forward is only this one statue in Mexico City.

Poor Dr. Balmis… he was lucky to get a street and bus stop named in his honor.

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