Doctor denounces the dictatorship’s outrages and the negligence of the health authorities.
Josmar Briones supported the demonstrators since the protests began and was a witness to the human rights violations.
By Yader Luna (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – Neurosurgeon Josmar Briones fully grasped the level of brutality unleashed by Daniel Ortega’s regime in Nicaragua when he received in his clinic two young demonstrators who had been raped with AK-47 rifles by paramilitaries.
The young men arrived bleeding, but they begged not to be transferred to a hospital where they might receive further torture, given the complaints that the public hospitals were denying medical attention to those wounded in the protests. Briones helped them, but that image marked him forever, he affirms.
“I still remember their faces when they arrived at the clinic. Their heads were down and they could barely walk, they were bleeding heavily through their pants, and that pain will stay with them for always. Even though they needed a hospital, they asked us not to take them to a place where they could receive yet more torture, and that I just control their bleeding. They didn’t want anything else,” the doctor says with a trembling voice.
Since exiling himself in the United States, the neurosurgeon has become a voice speaking out against the human rights violations and the abuses committed by the Nicaraguan health department authorities against the protestors. Since April 18 these latter have been demanding an end to the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
This doctor was working in two private clinics, one in Managua and one in Esteli, when the protests broke out. He decided from the beginning to help the demonstrators, as he witnessed the brutality with which they were beating them and shooting to kill. Briones attended to dozens of wounded and tortured and tells of the level of brutality and the viciousness of the regime towards the protesters.
“I attended to people wounded in the thorax with bullets, beaten, tortured; but the case that made the greatest impact on me was that of two young boys who were brutally raped with AK-47 rifles, manifesting the perversity of the Ortega government,” the doctor asserts.
Briones recently met with Luis Almagro, the OAS Secretary General to denounce the human rights violations that he was able to confirm in the framework of the peaceful protests. The meeting was held previous to the fifteenth Latin American Summit in Miami.
In that gathering, he took advantage of his presence to tell Almagro first-hand about the patients he had been able to help, and the tortures, violations, killings and denial of medical attention by the Ortega government.
Briones spoke of the case of a young man wounded in the Managua suburb of Ciudad Sandino who was transferred to the hospital but was then denied medical attention. He later died without ever receiving medical assistance. The specialist also spoke about the case of a high official in a Managua hospital who said, in reference to a protester: “let that dog die.”
I showed (Almagro) all the evidence of the complaints, because when you go to that kind of meeting you have to authenticate everything. I showed Mr. Almagro threatening messages, messages in which they were refusing to attend to patients, everything well documented,” he indicates.
Briones states that at the end of meeting, Almagro shook his hand and assured him that the evidence he had presented was definitive. “He told me that he’d support the Nicaraguan people, and in his speech delivered in Miami he fulfilled that pledge,” Briones says.
Almagro reported on the meeting via Twitter; he condemned the violence of the Nicaraguan government and declared that “those responsible should face justice.”
“The situation of human rights violations makes a democratic solution in Nicaragua essential. We demand respect for the physical and moral integrity of the churches, the farmers, the students and the indigenous people in the country,” one of his tweets read.
During his speech to the XV Latin American Summit in Miami on September 8, two days after his meeting with Briones, Almagro called on the international community to “suffocate the dictatorship that’s being installed in Nicaragua.”
“It’s inadmissible to have another country on the continent go over the cliff of dictatorship. We can’t permit this, and in each case, we must offer a response from the international community to suffocate the dictatorship that is being installed in Nicaragua as well,” Almagro stated.
The Nicaraguan doctor saw Almagro’s speech as a victory. It’s important that more people join in and denounce the outrages that our people are experiencing,” he insists.
Briones also denounced in the United States the recent firing of 22 doctors in Esteli. “They’ve dismissed a lot of medical personnel whose only crime has been to attend to patients and fulfill their duty,” he says.
Briones is originally from Esteli, although he lived in Managua before exiling himself in the United States. He offered medical attention in both cities before the political crisis that began on April 18th. During the protests, he also saw patients in those two places and in the improvised medical outposts set up in the universities.
“The pain of those two men (the rape victims) has left its mark, because at that moment we couldn’t denounce what had happened. They only wanted to get medical help and they were terrified,” he explained. Both of the young men have now left the country, and after receiving medical attention one of them is also receiving psychological help, the doctor comments.
Attention lacking in the Health Ministry
Briones is a specialist in general and laparoscopic surgery and also a neurosurgeon with studies in Nicaragua, Venezuela and Mexico. Since he joined in – together with his wife who’s also a doctor – to attend to the wounded he was able to confirm that many were not attended to in the country’s public hospitals, by order of the Health Ministry’s authorities.
“I knew of colleagues who took the risk of attending to the wounded despite the authorities’ prohibition and I can assure you that the great majority of the wounded had their right to health care violated,” the physician indicates.
The doctor recalls that he initially received phone calls in which “they recommended that I stop attending to those wounded in the protests.”
Despite these threats, Briones continued giving medical attention to the wounded. However, on July 11, several days after the phone calls, a group of hooded and armed paramilitaries presented themselves at his clinic and at his house, but didn’t find him at either place.
Confronted with this the level of threats, he left Nicaragua with his wife and two children to ask for asylum in the United States where he currently resides.
“I know of many doctors who today continue to be persecuted and threatened, but we won’t be silent in the face of the outrages committed by the Ortega government,” Dr. Briones insists.