Sunday, June 23, 2024

Parents of cancer victims file charge of genocide against deputy health minister

A group of parents of 220 children with cancer has filed a criminal complaint against Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell for genocide, discrimination and negligence in relation to the long-running shortage of cancer medications.

Lawyer Andrea Rocha filed the complaint at the federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) on behalf of the parents, who have been protesting drug shortages for two years.

Speaking to reporters outside FGR headquarters in Mexico City, Rocha didn’t elaborate on the genocide claim.

But a column published by the newspaper El Universal claimed that 1,600 children with cancer have died as a result of drug shortages. Prominent journalist Carlos Loret de Mola blamed President López Obrador, rather than López-Gatell, for the deaths.

“The shortage of cancer medications has killed 1,600 children who wouldn’t have died if they had their medicines. Only one person is responsible for the shortage: the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador,” he wrote.

“One thousand six hundred deaths in 2 1/2 years of government. That’s the figure counted by the parents who have powered a protest movement to pressure authorities …” Loret added.

“… The deaths are the product of the ineptitude of the government and a tantrum of the president, AMLO, who … to show his great power, ordered the closure of the only plant that produced these medications in Mexico (that of the pharmaceutical company Pisa) …”

Rocha charged that López-Gatell – the federal government’s coronavirus czar – has been negligent because he hasn’t guaranteed the distribution of cancer drugs. However, it is unclear how involved the deputy minister for health promotion is in securing the supply of such drugs. It appears that he has been more focused during the past 16 months on responding to the coronavirus pandemic, including securing the supply of Covid-19 vaccines.

Rocha, who was accompanied by parents and children with cancer, also took aim at López-Gatell for recent remarks linking protests against drug shortages to international right-wing coup plotters.

“We don’t understand why he calls us coup plotters. … As an official his obligation is to ensure that young boys and girls with cancer don’t die due to the shortage of medicines. … With these declarations, he’s saying that he really doesn’t want to help us. … He’s not doing his job,” she said.

The lawyer urged Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero to follow up on the complaint against the deputy minister and not simply receive it and “shelve” it.

Rocha noted that five other complaints have been filed with the FGR in connection with the medication shortages, including some against López Obrador and Health Minister Jorge Alcocer. Those complaints appear to have gone nowhere.

“We shouldn’t have to be submitting complaint after complaint so that the kids get something they are entitled to by law,” said Leslie Martinez, whose son lost his sight in both eyes due to tumors that weren’t treated on time due to a lack of chemotherapy drugs.

With reports from El Universal and El Financiero 

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