Doctor, Voice of the
Radio Universidad, Oaxaca, Mexico, 1947 -
From "The Memoirs, Volume Two"
I first met the Doctora Bertha when she was head of the Department of
Epidemiology at the General Hospital in Oaxaca and, therefore, in charge
of all AIDS patients of the state.
Dr. Bertha came on board early with us and agreed to
be one of the signers of the founding of the Frente Común Contra el
She gave the first talks on AIDS to our group and to
others. She gave a great talk, and always explained very clearly
how to put on a condom. I thought, perfect!
She always had a lot to say at our planning meetings. Here she is
with Nancy Mayagoitia and Paco Espinoza, all working hard.
My friend Maria Manhattan was in town then and took this nice photo of
Nancy and Bertha. After it appeared in the papers, it inspired the
following political cartoon. Nice.
* * *
I remember walking through
the zócalo one day with Dra. Bertha and conversing as we could, my poor
Spanish, of course. And one of us mentioned the hills around Oaxaca and
how pretty they were.
“Ah, the mountains around
Oaxaca! I always feel they are protecting me,” said the Doctora. “I
can look up at them and know they keep away the bad. I will always feel
safe here, the mountains will protect me.”
Bertha Elena walked in all the AIDS Walks we had.
Ten kilometers! In the first one, she put a T-shirt on my dog,
Dottie. Everyone loved it except Dottie.
Bertha had a lot to say at our tenth anniversay
* * *
The very first deaths from the political
repression of Ulises Ruiz in Oaxaca, were received by Dr. Bertha Muñoz
in the Hospital Civil, below.
On the front page of the newspaper, La
Jornada, of Mexico City, she was called "Doctor Shotgun" for her efforts
on behalf of the protesters in Oaxaca.
Dr. Bertha Muñoz and her sons were forced into hiding
by the repressive government of Ulises Ruiz for her comments about
social justice on the Radio Universidad, December, 2006.
* * *
An interview with Dr. Bertha
Elena recently filled an entire page of the Mexico City newspaper, LA
JORNADA, where she urged greater resistance to the corrupt regime of
Ulises Ruiz, June 26, 2007.
Death threats against her life and those of her children forced her to
flee Oaxaca in December of last year. She reported being ready to go to
Cuba, but decided the need for trained doctors was not as great as in
Bolivia, where she is now in the capital of La Paz doctoring to the poor.
* * *
In December, 2007, I wrote:
Finally, my friends, I would like to mention one further thing. I
received a moving letter this week from my long-time friend, the
Doctora Bertha Elena Muñoz, a strong activist in AIDS causes, human
rights and the People’s Assembly, APPO. She was the voice of the
University Radio during the government repression in Oaxaca and nick-named
“Doctor Shotgun” in the national press. She has been in forced
exile from Oaxaca for the last year and I have no idea where she is.
She wished me well and all the members of our Frente Común. She
said she was “filled with joy” to see her entry on my Encyclopedia.
She remembered fondly, “how the years have passed!” She said, of
the doctora in those pictures, “hardly a skeleton is left,” except
for the “spirit to keep up the good fight, which will never die.”
She sent a “warm hug” and promised to keep in touch.
* * *
On January 28, 2008, the weekly CORREO DE OAXACA reported the Doctora
"in exile from the country," below.
* * *
...NEXT: RAFAEL NADAL