Several People Wounded By Bullets in the Invasion of Atenco, NGO Doctor Reveals
At Least Three of the Beaten Have Been Visited in Prison; The Most Gravely Injured Requires Hospitalization
By Emir Olivares Alonso
May 24, 2006
On the day of the police assault on San Salvador Atenco various people were wounded by bullets, and not just Francisco Javier Cortes Santiago – the teenager who was killed – assures doctor Fernando Rubi Apreza, president of the Multidisciplinary Organization for the Health of Indigenous and Marginalized Populations (OMSPIM in its Spanish initials).
Together with another member of the OMSPIM, Guillermo Selvas – who was arrested along with his daughter Marina, a student of the National School of Anthropology and History – the doctor arrived in Atenco with the intention of offering medical services to those inhabitants who were hurt on the 3rd of May.
“We saw people hurt by firearms. I attended to one of those wounded by a bullet. He was treated and driven to a particular clinic. It was one of those wounded by a 38-caliber gun. I provided the first aid,” he stated.
When he found out that his friend Dr. Guillermo Selvas was detained, Rubi Apreza decided to come up to Almoloya de Juarez, in the state of Mexico, to try and see him. On various occasions the doctor tried to enter the Santiaguito prison; in one of the attempts he was successful.
Until today, he is the only person besides the authorities that has succeeded in passing beyond the waiting rooms of the Santiaguito prison. The doctor explains that last week he succeeded in entering and evaluating the three detainees in “most serious” condition as a result of the beatings administered by the police elements during the operation in San Salvador Atenco.
He says that Satuday, May 13th, thanks to a medical official sympathetic to Octavio Castilla – also detained – he succeeded in getting access to the jail. “This young man has renal insufficiency due to prostate trauma and requires a probe to decongest the bladder. I was allowed to enter as a doctor, to attend only to him, but I also met with some of the prison medical personnel.”
Nonetheless, he relates how the next day he agreed with the commission that he would enter and drop off provisions of water and sweets for the prisoners on hunger strike and that, thanks to the medical personnel that he met the day before, he was allowed to enter into the infirmary.
“There they allowed me to attend to the detainees. First I saw to the most gravely injured.” Those would be Heriberto Nopaltitla, a 58-year-old campesino; Arnulfo Pacheco, 55, who cannot walk, and Paulino Zavala, a 60-year-old carpenter.
Risk of Vegetative State
The doctor says that Nopaltitla presents multiple fractures in one arm, wrist and finger bones. “His body is all marked with bruises and dead skin; I detected rib fractures; I counted 19 wounds to the cranium. These lesions put his life in risk because the bruises provoke the blood to coagulate, it doesn’t dissolve, and it travels like that through the blood flow. It could produce vascular cerebral accidents, like blood clots, and this could lead to a permanent vegetative state.”
He believes that the most grave of the three is Pacheco, who, because of his physical incapacity, put up less resistance and was severely beaten. Pacheco, the doctor explains, has wounds all over the body and this situation has produced a “trauma” that has resulted in loss of bowel control. “Moreover, even after eight days he still has blood in his urine, inflamed legs due to the retention of liquids produced by the beating. He received a hit in the throat which wounded the pharynx, so it is difficult for him to eat; he has multiple rib fractures. He is the most delicate of the three. So that his life is not at risk, he should be hospitalized and attended by a specialist. In the least optimistic of cases, he could present a situation of vascular brain or cardiopulmonary failure.”
As for Zavala, who has diabetes, “he looks like a map of ulcers,” adds the doctor. Moreover, he has lesions to the cranium, face and nose, two fractured ribs and trouble breathing.
Fernando Rubi Apreza explains that beyond evaluating these three men, the prison medical personnel helped him gain access to the cells, and in that way he was able to treat the detainees. “I give priority to the women and I am able to attend to Barbara Italia Mendez, who “was violated with hands and objects. They half undressed her and they put her in a supine position, beyond hurting her, fingering her, she was abused in her genitals; she was the only one I was able to evaluate.”
Rubi Apreza says that, for some reason, there was a rumor circulating around inside the prison that a doctor was treating the prisoners, which caused the infirmary personnel to ask him to leave the facility. Even so, the doctor comments that he sent a letter to the director of prevention and social rehabilitation in the state of Mexico, Alejandro Carmona, in which he solicited permission to access the penal facility to continue with the clinical analysis of the detainees.
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