April 25, 2008

Baja doctors fed up: goverment inaction on kidnappings insulting

By Mariana Martínez

More than 300 doctors both in public and private practice demand safety for all Tijuana residents, specially for doctors who in the past months have been affected by at least 23 kidnappings, along with hundreds of extortions and threatening phone calls.

The doctors and even med students gathered outside the State Government building past Friday 18th to try to meet with governor José Guadalupe Osuna Millán.

But after a short meeting with his secretary in Tijuana, Domingo Ramos Medina, the president of the Tijuana Medical Association, Eric Rosenberg, raced out the door, fuming.

“They told us the governor could not be reached”, Rosenberg said, visibly disturbed, “there is no use, they said our problem was not serious and that maybe tomorrow….Saturday, they would be in contact, they are insulting our intelligence”.

The doctors agreed to stop working on scheduled patients for the 12 hours, in a way to protest for the lack of safety they are currently living. They also had a document extorting the governor to make the needed changes to assure public safety and more efficient authorities.

Just two days prior to the protest, doctors meet with State Attorney General Rommel Moreño Manjarrez, where some doctors said they where offered anti-kidnapping training and for their concerns to be “given to the governor”.

The doctors movement for safety galvanized after the kidnapping of doctor Fernando Guzmán Cordero, director of an important public clinic and owner of a private hospital, known for his philanthropic work.

Guzmán was freed by his captors’ just hours after some doctors had a private meeting with Moreño. According to some versions citing dr. Guzmán, he was freed in the early hours, given 20 bucks for cab fair and told by his captors that “the boss told us to take care of you, you are a hot potato in our hands”.

This has made citizens question the reach or organized crime into local institutions.

Doctor Oscar César Acosta Pérez works for Guzmán in his clinic, and said he was glad the kidnapped doctor is allright, but he fears for the rest of them.

“What is going to happen if one of us is kidnapped, one who is not famous, powerful and a public figure? Many of us, —contrary to popular belief—, are far from being well off”, he said.

“I’m frankly scared, I don’t longer wear my robe outside the office, while it used to be a sign of pride of being in a prestigious profession, now it seams like a liability”, added Acosta.

Pediatric endocrinologist Daniel Trujillo Juarez, who also came to the protest, told of his experience, when he was told his 12-year-old daughter had been kidnapped.

“It was the most horrifying four hours of my life”, said Trujillo, “and this guy [Ramos Medina] tells me to calm down…evidently he has not suffered this in his own skin”.

Trujillo added this kind of numbness from authorities is exactly what is affecting Tijuana society and why doctors are now having to take a stand and even consider making more strikes.

“In my case, I had no help from authorities, they cynically told me “if they have your daughter just pay them”, said Trujillo.

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