Monday, December 13, 2010

Juarez Doctors Announce Total Work Stoppage to Protest Violence

The work stoppage includes emergency rooms, announced representatives from Doctors United and the Citizens' Medical Committee

by Manuel Cruz, correspondent for El Universal
"Enough violence and insecurity and ineptidude from
municipal, state, federal governments and lawmakers."

[Update 12/17/2010: Added video, below, of the doctors strike.]

On Monday, Juarez residents will go without medical attention for 24 hours because the doctors guild will declare a total work stoppage.

The measure is being taken following over two years of demanding that the violence end.

The doctors that work in public and private clinics and hospitals will not go to work beginning at 7:30am on Monday the 13th. 

The stoppage includes emergency rooms, announced Alfredo Lugo Villa, Alejandro Flores Olivares, Alejandro Terrazas Gracia, and Leticia Chavarría, representatives from Doctors United for Juarez and the Citizens' Medical Committee.

They noted that patients who need urgent medical attention, know to doctors as Code Red, will be in the care of municipal and state authorities who will use the City Council Hospital and Clinic and the General Hospital.

Likewise, they called upon citizens and workers in other sectors who cannot participate in the stoppage because of the economic crisis to demonstrate against insecurity with signs, banners, and painted messages on their businesses and vehicles.

They said that on Monday the guild will hold a special session in a place that has not been made public due to security concerns.

Chavarría noted that as of Saturday a group of lawyers and some other sectors had also joined the work stoppage.  She said that the Bishop of the Juarez Diocese, Renato Ascencio León, as come out in favor of the work stoppage.

"On Sunday in mass, some of the priests will promote the work stoppage to their congregations," she added.

They warned that this is the first of a series of actions designed to pressure authorities to put a stop [to insecurity], and they gave authorities seven days to carry out the following:

1. clear up the murders of doctors Alfonso Rocha y Alberto Betancourt;
2. that police do their jobs with their faces uncovered and with their badges clearly visible;
3. and that the state assign financial resources to the city in proportion to that which the city itself generates, and that it assign additional resources to reactivate the local economy.

The doctors noted other demands, such as purging and professionalizing the municipal police; holding corrupt officials accountable and punishing them; and the assignment of 200 agents from the Public Prosecutors' Office to investigate the thousands of crimes that have been committed to date.

"As of this Saturday, all of the private hospitals and clinics have confirmed their participation in the work stoppage.  Furthermore, we have received support from the Social Security Union [which represents workers in public hospitals]," she said.

They indicated that doctors from the following medical centers would not go to work: Family Medicine Units and Social Security Hospitals 6, 34, 35, 46, 48, and 66; the private hospitals Star Medical, Angeles Hospital, Specialty Medical Center, Poliplaza Medical, and 17 other clinics; and the ISSSTE [a government hospital].

"We will stand firm.  We've thought long and hard about these actions, the work stoppage.  After two years of demanding--December marks two years since we first protested--and in that time we have not seen real results in terms of reducing the violence.  We are determined to continue with our demands, and we will step up the pressure depending on the authorities' disposition to resolve the situation," said Dr. Chavarría.

Translated by Kristin Bricker

Video from the work stoppage: 
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