HAVANA TIMES – At least 135 doctors, paramedics and nurses who assisted protestors wounded during protests against the Nicaraguan government have been summarily fired from the Public Health System, two medical organizations denounced today, reported dpa news agency.
Carlos Duarte, a board member of the Nicaraguan Medical Association (NMA), called the dismissals, so far in three provinces, “arbitrary and illegal.” He believes that this is Ortega’s way of carrying out reprisals for indirectly supporting the protests.
Duarte, who was fired from a public hospital, told El Nuevo Diario newspaper, “This goes against the General Health Act which favors vulnerable populations.”
Dozens of doctors have reported being summarily dismissed from their positions over the past few days in Leon, Jinotepe and Masaya. Some of them were verbally told that they were “terrorists” and that this was happening because they ignored an official order not to help wounded protestors.
Specialists removed from their jobs include internists, pediatricians, orthopedic doctors, oncologists, surgeons and cardiologists, many with over 20 years of experience, according to reports from those affected.
A report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) revealed that medical attention was denied at hospitals and other health facilities to those people wounded during protests. Likewise it noted there were orders to “restrict ambulances leaving and circulating, as well as humanitarian aid workers’ efforts such as firemen, Red Cross staff, medical staff, paramedics, Medicine students and volunteers.”
“We gave medical attention to the population (…) without discrimination based on political ideology or religion. Our mission is to operate, not judge,” surgeon Julio Sanchez said, who was fired from the public hospital in Carazo after 34 years of service.
The Nicaraguan Medical Union (UMN) issued a statement condemning the dismissals of health professionals “who have committed themselves to defending the lives of those wounded during these past months of civic protest.”
According to the UMN, at least 28 doctors have left Nicaragua after suffering harassment and threats from pro-government sympathizers and many more have gone “underground”, not being able to work.
Another specialist from the same city (who asked to remain anonymous) said that she had to leave her home because she was receiving death threats and that she couldn’t even go and pick up her letter of termination. “I know they are going to catch me,” she explained.
Crisis broke out in Nicaragua on April 18th after students peacefully protested the government’s social security reforms. Ortega called out his National Police and mobs of supporters who violently repressed the students and other protestors resulting in the first deaths.
As the protests escalated, the government organized hooded paramilitary forces who, after removing citizen roadblocks and barricades, have virtually taken over many cities.
Today, the death toll stands at 317 documented thus far by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and well over 2,000 injured. The Government has only recognized 195 deaths. Several hundred protestors have been imprisoned or are listed as missing, captured by Ortega’s paramilitary forces.