Life suddenly changed for Fernanda Ochoa on July 25. That day she had left her house, in the State of Chiapas (southeastern Mexico), to attend to a family matter when she received a call from her husband, the doctor Gerardo Grajales Yuca. “I am detained,” he said. Ochoa did not understand what was happening. Her husband did not have time to give details. “Tell my dad to come to the address I’m going to send you and get me a lawyer,” were her words before ending the call. “It was surprising for both of us,” says Ochoa, her voice cracking with nerves. Grajales is the head of Emergencies at the Hospital de Especialidades Vida Mejor, of the Social Security Institute for Workers (ISSTECH), located in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state capital, and was the specialist in charge of the coronavirus pandemic when he was arrested on charges of authority abuse. The case has outraged his colleagues and involves the daughter of an influential local politician who died in that hospital from covid-19. To date, 46,688 people have died in Mexico due to the pandemic. “I live a nightmare. I ask the authorities to investigate well, because my husband is innocent, “says Ochoa tearfully.
The accusation against the doctor was made by the daughter of Miguel Arturo Ramirez Lopez, a chameleonic politician with great influence in the State, who had been a federal deputy for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and also held positions in other organizations, such as the now oppositionist National Action Party (PAN) and the Green Ecological Party of Mexico (PVEM). A local leader, with power and influence, to say of Chiapas journalists. Ramirez Lopez died of covid-19 on July 7 and her daughter, Karen Alejandra Ramirez Molina, accused the doctor who treated her, Grajales, of negligence and filed a lawsuit against her for abuse of authority. The woman alleges that the doctor asked for equipment and medication in exchange for treating her father. The local prosecutor’s office accepted the lawsuit and ordered the arrest of Grajales, who is awaiting a trial in the cells of the Chiapas State Preventive Center.
Grajales’ arrest sparked outrage among his colleagues and patients. One day after he was arrested, more than 500 doctors, nurses and health personnel from various Chiapas hospitals demonstrated in Tuxtla Gutierrez demanding the release of the emergency doctor. At just 41 years old, Grajales suffers from a heart condition that was diagnosed three years ago. “His cardiologist told him that he cannot be under stressful situations. In 2016 he had a crisis, he got chills, his hands sweated, his chest hurt and his blood pressure rose, ”explains Fernanda Ochoa, 27, a dentist by profession. In a telephone conversation with EL PAÍS, she states that since she was arrested, she has not been able to see her husband, because the authorities have restricted visits to the prison due to the pandemic. This Saturday he was anxiously awaiting the results of an MRI to which he would be subjected. His phone hasn’t stopped ringing, he says, with calls from colleagues and patients expressing solidarity. “My husband is not a politician. He is a doctor who is passionate about his job. He was happy to see his patients with covid-19 come out ahead. He was proud because his hospital was the one that had had the best results against the pandemic in Chiapas, ”he says.
Ochoa says that all the lawyers she has consulted since her husband’s arrest tell her that the evidence against him is weak and that there are possibilities that he will be released, although on July 30, local judge Carlos Morales Urbina admitted the process against Grajales. “The lawyers tell me that the accusation is without foundation, that it is not supported. This must be a misunderstanding. It’s amazing what happened, I can’t believe it. There is something that the authorities are not seeing, my husband is innocent, “he says. “I want my husband to return home to live with our six-month-old baby. We are a quiet family. This is a nightmare and I just want it to be over. “