Editors’ note: The following was translated by revcom.us from Aurora Roja, the blog of the Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico.

Healthcare Workers Protest Against Lack of Equipment, Medical Care and Against Repression

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We received this report on one of the protests on July 1 and we encourage other people to share their experiences, exposures, and struggles (auroraroja.mx@gmail.com). For an analysis of why this system worsens a lot the impact of SARS-CoV-2, resulting in many unnecessary deaths, check out “Unnecessary COVID-19 Deaths Show This System Is Obsolete—Revolution Is Needed.”

On July 1, in front of the main offices of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) in Mexico City, you could see and hear the healthcare workers continuing with their demands that they be provided with personal protective equipment to care for and save the lives of those infected with COVID-19. They also demanded the reinstatement of their colleagues who have been fired for demanding, exposing, or demonstrating the lack of basic supplies. On the same day, mobilizations were held in 13 states of Mexico, including Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Puebla, and Chihuahua, organized by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (SNTS).

Despite protests and complaints from healthcare workers throughout Mexico, there is still a lack of personal protective equipment, testing, other supplies, and guidance for new staff, which has greatly increased the risks they face and has contributed to a high number of unnecessary deaths and contagions among healthcare workers. According to official figures (which do not include all cases), in Puebla there are 2,252 infected healthcare workers, of whom more than 40 have died. In Mexico City, 200 health workers have died from COVID-19 contagion,1 and nationwide, 46,013 healthcare workers have been infected, of whom 683 have died,2 all according to official figures. However, a SNTS representative has denounced that “the numerical disparity in the accounting by Zoé (Robledo) [director of the IMSS], (Hugo López) Gatell [Secretary of Health], and the real lethality of our hospitals is offensive and insulting.... They put out the statements, we put out the dead.” One of the demands is “A real count and posting of the names of the people who have died and have been infected.”3

As a healthcare worker from a hospital in Chimalhuacán, State of Mexico, explained to us, the proportion of infected medical personnel is so high, “Because we do not have quality supplies, because we do not have protective equipment, and they only use the supplies in certain areas or COVID-19 hospitals, and my hospital is not comprehensive.” In addition, many of these people who are risking their lives to help others lack health insurance: “In question as workers, well, we are in a super bad situation... And now with INSABI [Institute of Health for Well-Being], we have not even signed a contract. There are colleagues who even have 12 [years] of seniority with the previous six-year terms, only signing a contract every six months, so it is practically half a working life, which, therefore, is practically not taken into account. So if we do not have a contract, we do not have medical benefits either, my colleagues are getting sick and there is no medical care, therefore our deceased colleagues do not even have indemnity, much less a pension.” This is completely criminal.

During the rally outside the IMSS main offices, the demand to provide healthcare workers with personal protective equipment was a constant, as well as the reinstatement of their fired colleagues who have made these demands, or who have exposed the poor conditions in which they are forced to work. In the Mexico City protest, they also demanded the cessation of threats against those who continue to mobilize, granting permanent positions to those workers who are under temporary contract, and call for the authorities to sit down to dialogue and seriously commit to and comply with these demands. Via the sound system, voices of people from different hospitals were heard. After a while, it was reported that there would be a meeting with authorities at the main offices of the Secretariat of Health and Care (SSA). So we left on a brief march along Reforma Avenue, led by the healthcare workers, followed by the other groups who were supporting this mobilization.

Before leaving, candles were lit and a minute of silence was observed in honor of those who have died, infected by COVID-19. Once at the SSA, we blocked the circulation in the other direction of Reforma Avenue, because they were making it difficult to enter the offices of the healthcare workers commission that had been organized at that point. Finally, the commission was able to enter, but it later came out to basically report that they tried to pull our leg, because there were no authorities who would really guarantee full compliance with the agreements reached. Right there, the healthcare workers announced that they will hold a congress on August 1, 2020.

The flyer “Unnecessary COVID-19 Deaths Show This System Is Obsolete—Revolution Is Needed,” by the Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico, was gotten to almost everyone at this mobilization.

The mobilization by these workers is not stopping. On July 3, again, doctors and staff from the Lomas Verdes Traumatology Hospital in Naucalpan, State of Mexico, demonstrated. They blocked the side lane of the North Loop Highway to pressure to be provided with basic supplies to continue caring for the COVID-19 cases, in addition to the firing of six hospital officials.4

In the face of the authorities’ stonewalling their just demands, this battle continues and deserves everyone’s support.

Posted by Aurora Roja


1. La Jornada del Oriente, July 3, 2020. [back]

2. La Jornada, July 2, 2020. [back]

3. “Trabajadores de la Salud amagan con marchar el 1 de julio en la Ciudad de México” [Healthcare workers threaten march on July 1 in Mexico City]. [back]

4. Facebook: “Desde las Bases IMSS Emergencias” [From IMSS Rank and File Emergency Care Workers]. On this page you can find information about the mobilizations and the demands of the doctors. [back]

Protest at the IMSS main offices. The signs say: “Apologies for the inconvenience. There are no supplies.” “We demand: Personal protective equipment!” “Corruption is killing us. There are no supplies.” (Photo: Israel Lorenzana and Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, from Siete24.mx)

At the IMSS. The posters demand permanent positions for healthcare workers under temporary contracts. (Photo: EFE)

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