Sanitizing the State: The Yellow Fever Campaign in Veracruz
By the end of 1924, Mexican public health officials in conjunction with agents from the Rockefeller Foundation International Health Board had waged a successful campaign to eliminate yellow fever in Veracruz. This achievement represented no small feat as the disease, along with smallpox, cholera and other viral invaders, had plagued the population of the Mexican Gulf Coast for more than four centuries. Not surprisingly, more recent interpretations of the Rockefeller Foundation’s activities in Mexico by some historians have considered the yellow fever campaign as part of a larger imperial effort designed to shape the development of public health in Mexico. While these largely post-dependency theory characterizations are generally correct, the following essay which examines diaries and personal correspondence of North American doctors stationed in Veracruz during the Yellow Fever Campaign argues that charges of U.S. neo-colonialism in matters of public health have been exaggerated.
Keywords: Yellow Fever, Mexico, Veracruz, Public Health History, Neocolonialism
Dr. Andrew Wood
Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Tulsa