Medical Specialist Fired for Not Supporting Ortega

Dr. Pablo Moreno

The doctor, Pablo Moreno, fired from the Manolo Morales Hospital, is a gastroenterologist with over two decades of experience.

Por Ana Lucia Cruz  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Dr. Pablo Moreno was an experienced gastroenterologist and internal medicine specialist at the Roberto Calderon Hospital, also known as the Manolo Morales Hospital in Managua.  This Wednesday, January 13, he publicly disclosed the firing by Nicaragua’s Ministry of Health (Minsa). He denounced the firing as “repressive and illegal”. Further, he stated, it was the result of his critical stance towards the regime of Daniel Ortega.

Dr. Moreno received a letter, signed by Alicia Martinez, HR director of the Manolo Morales Hospital.  The letter stated his contract was “terminated”, and his duties as “internal medicine doctor” suspended. The supposed reason was: “abandoning your workstation repeatedly during hours of duty.”

The order came from “higher up”

That justification is “a cheap and flimsy excuse”, the specialist affirmed. His very supervisor recognized that the order [to fire him] came from “higher up”, the doctor told Confidencial.  On social media, the doctor posted what he felt was the real reason.  He believes the firing came because he didn’t belong to groups “sympathetic with or silenced by dictators Ortega and Murillo”.

HR director Martinez came to Moreno’s office accompanied by a man who identified himself as a lawyer. The latter delivered the notice of termination to the doctor.  Dr. Moreno refused to sign it and insisted on speaking with the hospital director. The order suprised the director, “because even he knew nothing about the firing.”

The lawyer then attempted to impede Dr. Moreno from moving around the hospital installations. He followed him everywhere, waiting for the security guards “to do the dirty work of getting me out,” Moreno said. But none of them approached him.

The termination notice was no suprise to the 56-year-old physician. He’s been a critical voice regarding the government’s management of the pandemic. This included making his thoughts known on the social networks. He asserted that the doctors working in the hospital “are afraid of giving their opinions, even on social media.” Dr. Moreno spent 28 years of his life working in that hospital. He’s aware that his colleagues “fear losing their jobs and feel intimidated.”

They don’t want any “hindrances”

In addition, Dr. Moreno stated, in the current electoral climate, the government doesn’t want anyone to “cast a minimal shadow. They don’t want anyone hindering them in this process, and I’ve been a nuisance and a critic,” he asserted.

The doctor believes they’re looking to maintain “the information under wraps”. Currently, he feels, none of the current specialists in the hospital would dare to post anything on the social networks. They’re afraid. In the case of the other medical centers, “They’ve already been swept clean. I was the last hindrance to be eliminated,” he expressed.

He also believes the “higher orders” for his firing is linked to the behavior of Fetsalud, the official health workers’ union. Fetsalud is a political wing of the government. Its head is National Assembly deputy Gustavo Porras, who’s been sanctioned for corruption by the US Treasury. Dr. Moreno was a member of that union. However, when he was fired, at no moment “did it appear.” Rather, it disappeared.”

Moreno had worked as a gastroenterology specialist for twenty-one years. He was the only one in the public health system, he noted.  He saw 25 to 30 patients a week, many of them transfers from hospitals in other departments. In addition to these patients, he did rounds in the hospital. With his firing, it’s unclear what will happen to his patients.

Overall, Dr. Moreno has dedicated 31 years to his profession. He adds that no doctor should be “a salaried employee of official thought.” He said he’d continue “on my feet”.

Others fired for “political” reasons

In the last three years of the socio-political crisis, Nicaraguan doctors have frequently been victims of “political” firings.

Dr. Jose Luis Borges, who works with an independent medical workers organization, offered some statistics. Since April 2018, when the crisis began, 480 health workers have been fired for “political” reasons.

During the COVID-19 pandemic that began in Nicaragua in March 2020, reports show 33 doctors fired. These now include Dr. Moreno.

“In these three years, nearly 500 health workers have been arbitrarily dismissed. For political reasons, Minsa hasn’t complied with the labor codes and agreements, inventing any excuse” he said.

Dr. Borge also indicated that his organization is aware of 117 doctors nationally who’ve “been forced to resign”. In the majority of these cases, “They haven’t received the severance benefits mandated by the law.”

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.