From US Medical Student Joanna Mae Souers & MEDICC:
Dr. Luther Castillo is a dear friend of mine… he is doing amazing things as a doctor in Honduras, and now that the world has turned it’s back, he’s trying to shed light on the situation…
He asked us to thank all of you for defending the lives of Hondurans threatened by the coup. He is spending some hours most nights attending to wounded or to families housed in temporary shelters throughout Tegucigalpa. He moves around, doesn’t sleep in one place. The streets after dark, he says, are “completely militarized”.
He reports that the defacto government is attempting to stop demonstrations and continued strikes by teachers and others, selectively targeting their leaders using a growing “hit list” of names that include his own. He says the attacks are being carried out by the army or by “criminals-for-hire”, reminiscent of the death squads of the 1980s. Three grassroots and labor leaders have been assassinated in the last few days alone.
Dr. Castillo has two main concerns:
ONE: the international press blackout on Honduras, with virtually all media either shut down or expelled. “We can’t let silence win; we need your voices,” he said.
TWO: the fate of the only Garifuna Hospital in Honduras, now without government support. Located in Ciriboya, the hospital is staffed by the group of young Garifuna doctors who founded it, working with volunteer Cuban physicians. Dr. Castillo reports they are down to their last supplies and medicines for 20,000 people living in the surrounding indigenous communities, settlements with no lights or running water.
“These are the poorest of the poor, the invisible poor. They are the real victims of the coup,” Dr. Castillo told MEDICC.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Urge the US government to act: If you haven’t contacted the White House, the State Department or your Congressional representatives, DO SO NOW. Press them to use the US government’s influence to guarantee respect for the lives of Dr. Castillo, his colleagues and all those protesting the coup, and to ensure the return of Honduras’ elected government. State Department: 202-647-4000 or 1-800-877-8339. White House: Comments: 202-456-1111, Switchboard: 202-456-1414
Contact your Senators here: www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Contact your Congresspeople here:
Keep Honduras in the public eye: Circulate this alert widely. GO ON THE WEB: use your blogs, listservs and networks to get the word out. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
There are also several Facebook groups that you can also join/post on:
If you are a health worker or professional: ask your union, society or organization to post this alert and issue a public statement defending the rights and lives of your colleagues in Honduras.
Donate to the Garifuna Hospital: Global Links in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has sent several containers of equipment and supplies already. They will make your donation count for more. Log on to: www.globallinks.org
Donate to MEDICC’s program to support the Garifuna medical students and graduates of the Latin American Medical School.
For more information and actions you can take, go to:
Latin America Working Group– www.lawg.org
Center for Democracy in the Americas www.democracyinamericas.org
Here is more information you can use:
Since 1999, Luther Castillo has directed the Luaga Hatuadi Waduheñu Foundation (“For the Health of our People” in Garifuna), dedicated to bringing vital health services to isolated indigenous coastal communities. After his 2005 graduation from the Latin American Medical School in Havana, Dr. Castillo returned to the Honduran coast, where he led the Foundation’s construction of Honduras’ first Garifuna Rural Hospital, now serving some 20,000 in the surrounding communities.
The hospital opened in December 2007, a few months after Dr. Castillo was named “Honduran Doctor of the Year” by Rotary International’s Tegucigalpa chapter. “Thank you for inspiring me,” said California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, speaking at the hospital’s opening ceremony.
The hospital and its community health outreach are supported by a number of U.S. and other international organizations, including the Sacramento, California Central Labor Council, Global Links, The Birthing Project, and MEDICC. Several US medical schools also have cooperative arrangements with the Garifuna hospital, including Johns Hopkins, Emory, Charles Drew and University of California (SF).
Just weeks before the coup, Dr. Castillo was named director of International Cooperation in the Honduran Foreign Ministry.
Dr. Castillo is featured in ¡Salud! (www.saludthefilm.net), a documentary film that received the Council on Foundations Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film & Digital Media (USA).
MEDICC (Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba), www.medicc.org, is a US non-governmental organization working to enhance cooperation among the U.S., Cuban and global health communities aimed at better health outcomes.
Joanna Mae Souers
Escuela LatinoAmericana de Medicina
Santa Fe, Playa
Ciudad de la Habana, CUBA