On the morning of April 19th, he packed his bag with small handkerchiefs, gauze bandages, face masks and medical instruments, without imagining that by the next day he’d be cleaning the blood off the teenager whose death would move the entire nation.
This doctor prefers to remain anonymous for his safety. He pauses every time he recalls Alvaro Conrado, the youth they killed while carrying bottles of water to the university students. A knot forms in his throat and tears come to his eyes.
He has no explanation for the courage he’s found to risk his own life. At times he’s thought that there’s a spiritual source moving him.
He picks up his bag, opens it and says regretfully: “They forced us to take out our notebooks and books, and replace them with bandages and homemade mortars.” He sits down, and recalling Alvaro insists: “He never wanted to harm anyone, only to collaborate with all of us who were in the Cathedral.”
Like him, dozens of specialists, general physicians, psychologists, and students from different branches of the medical and paramedical fields have joined a volunteer movement unprecedented in Nicaragua’s post-war history. All of them are doing so to aid the population that has suffered from the repressive actions of the police and paramilitary linked to the government.
They’ve watched hundreds of young people file by, sustaining an unarmed battle in the streets. Many have come back wounded, and others dead. For these doctors, “it’s a just struggle” that belongs to all the people.
“The students are reacting and revolting because of everything that’s been happening, so I thought – “this is going to go far – and joined in. I want to be part of the movement that changed history, because staying home watching the news doesn’t solve anything,” affirms one of the doctors.
They’re fearful: They worry about being pursued, detained, beaten up or killed. Some have already had threats leveled against them or been fired from their jobs, but they affirm that they’ll do what they swore an oath to do: attend to those who need them most. That’s the promise that they mean to keep alive, “no matter what happens.”