Mexican medical personnel are protesting dangerous and unstable working conditions in the state of Chihuahua, where violent drug-trafficking cartels continue to terrorize local communities.
The protests began in November 2017 to demand stronger security measures in remote areas of Chihuahua's mountains after Blas Juan Godinez, hospital director in the Gomez Farias municipality, was kidnapped by a criminal organization.
Godinez had reportedly refused to give medical attention to members of a drug cartel injured in a clash with rivals. The Chihuahua authorities then withdrew medical personnel from the area because the state could no longer guarantee basic security.
In Mexico, medical students are usually sent to remote areas to fulfill their residency requirements. In Chihuahua, that usually means the Sierra Madre Occidental, the mountainous home of the Raramuri people, where organized crime is ubiquitous.
Meanwhile, staff at Chihuahua's Children's Hospital and the Central Hospital have threatened to strike if the health ministry fails to regulate contracts and adjusts the salaries of about 700 workers – demands they have been making for more than two years.
Demonstrators are also calling for the reopening of medical graduate programs and specialties, income adjustments and the regulation of contracts.