November 10, 2011, 5pm. Green College Coach House.
In 1917, Mexico’s new constitution proclaimed that citizens had the right to healthcare. The post-revolutionary government determined that it would fall to doctors to fulfill this constitutional promise. Fifty years later, in the fall of 1964, Mexico City’s medical residents and interns left their hospitals and began what would become the longest physicians’ strike in Mexico’s history. Doctors initially went on strike to protest meager salaries, unpaid bonuses, and an excessive workload; they stayed on strike to protest an increasingly repressive political regime. Some physicians were jailed, all leaders were placed under strict surveillance and, as weeks turned into months, a handful of those who had been fired joined urban guerrillas and began a concerted effort to destabilize the government through violence. This presentation explores how ‘revolutionary’ public health initiatives sent doctors to new spaces and redefined who could heal and where the craft of medicine could be performed. But, unexpectedly, this led to a more radicalized identity that relied on medical knowledge as a tool to reform society.
Part of Green College‘s “Science in Society” series.