Health Care Strike Action Alert, February 2000

Posted by Partners Across Borders, St. Cloud, MN


On Friday, February 18, 2000, the strike of medical workers that has paralyzed 90% of the health services in the Salvadoran Institute for Social Security (ISSS) and the principal public hospitals of the country (Hospital Rosales, Maternity Hospital, Benjamin Bloom Children’s Hospital, the Regional Hospitals of San Miguel, Santa Ana and other cities) entered into a new phase of confrontation and repression by the government.

In a press conference, the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mario Acosta Oertel, denounced the strike, saying that such an action is the product of "a communist conspiracy" and an old style 1980’s action. He accused the doctors and the union members of being "kidnappers of the nation’s health," giving names of those supposedly responsible: Dr. José Marinero, former President of the Medical College; Dr. Guillermo Mata Bennett, current president of the Medical College; and Attorney Felix Ulloa, member of the Arbitration Tribunal nominated to resolve the labor conflict of the STISSS-ISSS.

In the past, this type of rhetoric was sufficient effect the assassination or the disappearance of the persons mentioned. It was the mode of operation of Major D’Aubisson and was converted into a working order by the death squads. On this occasion, the first effects are already been produced. During the night, the home of Dr. Mata Bennett received anonymous calls with threats that were made against his teenage daughter and against the doctor himself. The same day (the 18th) the above-mentioned denunciation was presented to the Procurator for the Defense Human Rights, who offered to initiate an investigation of the case.

Today, February 19, at the Zacatecoluca Hospital, the Director of the Hospital, accompanied by personnel in military dress, appeared before the resident doctors, threatening them that they would be dismissed if they did not show up for work next Monday, 21 February.

The situation is becoming more serious because the government has rejected all of the proposals for negotiation presented by the doctors and the workers, including the mediation offered by the Catholic Church through the Archbishop of San Salvador, Monseñor Saenz Lacalle. Instead, the government has hardened, threatening the positions with more arbitrary dismissals.

Up till now the following acts reflect [the government’s] intransigent attitude:

Because of the foregoing, we ask for international solidarity:

  1. Demand of the Government of President Francisco Flores the opening of an immediate dialogue with the doctors and the health care workers.
  2. Stop the campaign of discrediting and threats against the doctors, workers, union members and other people involved in the conflict.
  3. Demilitarize the centers of work and stop the police harassment against the workers.

San Salvador, February 19, 2000

Information available in the salvadoran Press:;

Send messages to: Casa Presidencial: and as well as to Exterior Relations:

Please copy the Medical College:
posted for SHARE by Dennis Beach, OSB
Partners Across Borders, Saint Cloud, MN
SHARE Sister-city with Tenancingo, El Salvador