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  • Writer's picturePanama Human Rights

Panamá's Fake Doctors

Updated: Nov 3, 2019


Believe it or not, dressing up as a doctor every day could entitle you to receive 6 months off your sentence for every year worked as a fake doctor, running the local clinic that’s funded in part by the United States of America. This facility comes with all the added extras including Open Internet access, Air-conditioning, TV, Having access to all prisoners’ medical records, Hijacking prescriptions to downloading porn onto memory sticks and selling/renting the videos upon returning to building 6.

The medical records obtained below were compromised by these two individuals then sold to me, the records below are supposedly classified and extremely sensitive, but were freely acquired at a cost. Anyone who wanted the scoop on an inmate’s medical condition such as HIV or tuberculosis could do so with ease.

The Santo Tomas Hospital, besides getting my diagnosis wrong, being they only checked my bones and not my joints. The report below is also floored being they based condition on being 10 years older than my actual age making me 60 when I was only 50.

Below picture bottom right is one of the La Joya fake doctors leaving his air-conditioned offices and heading off on his daily rounds, this is not a bad job considering Ernesto previously was a Venezuelan Taxi driver before being caught with a kilo of cocaine at Tocumen International Airport.

These two individuals had total access to sensitive areas and could move freely between all prison blocks, including the administration building.

How often do you see doctors smoking whilst on house calls? Well in Panama anything is possible, let’s just hope the tobacco he is smoking is legal. Before you light up Ernesto remembers lighters are illegal in La Joya, pictured bottom left.

The right and above pictures show the state did supply them with a medical box with medication including a uniform with the state hospital logo.

The medical records obtained below were compromised by these two individuals then sold to me, the records below are supposedly classified and extremely sensitive, but were freely acquired at a cost. Anyone who wanted the scoop on an inmate’s medical condition such as HIV or tuberculosis could do so with ease.

Doctor’s office located adjacent to police checkpoint # 3

These doctors played Russian roulette with people’s lives with potentially devastating consequences, all prisoners have a basic right to receive a good quality medication by a competent authority, in Panamá this is totally overlooked and ignored, leaving internationals as well as Panamanians at serious risk.

What if an inmate had died under Ernesto's watch after prescribing wrongly then found the inmate suffered a reaction to the medication without understanding the patient’s previous medical history, would President Juan Carlos Varela then admit the inmate died under his leadership. Or would it be swept under the carpet!  

The two doctors were the main mules for the pharmaceuticals industry entering building 6. Pictured below, Ernesto is giving the police commando free medication as a thank you for not screening him upon his returns when arriving back at building 6 at the end of his workday.  Most likely this commando would then sell it on to another prison building.

Below, the door that ajar shows that the Americans were instrumental in a working partnership with Panamá in sponsoring and supporting this prisoner run clinic, that was partially funded out of my tax dollars.

Doctor: Ernesto Jose Tamayo Passport number: 7590119

If these two doctors were for real, where were they on the evening of Mark Bodden's death, whilst he was dying on the floor at the end of my bed, they were nowhere to be found, the only hero who stepped forward who was fully qualified was Doctor Arthur Porter, sadly Arthur was never released early for his hard work in saving real lives as a doctor, his services were provided for free to the state of Panamá.

Panama has a lot to thank Arthur for, but when it came to Arthur’s hours of need the state would not listen nor would they grant him release on humanitarian grounds, knowing he was chained to his bed with only a few days left to live, but these two doctors did seek early freedom and walked free soon after Arthur had passed away, thanks to President Juan Carlos Varela's prison program.

“I am of the opinion that if Mr Bodden had received a prompt transfer to a hospital with neurological competence, he would have had a substantial chance of making a complete recovery,” wrote Dr Porter.

A British national, Leo Morgan has been representing foreign inmates in talks with prison officials and embassy diplomats, in an effort to improve conditions. Mark mentioned many times and protested to the British consul about his living quarters, serious infections and the lack of medical help especially his serious foot infection. A Freedom of Information Act will collaborate this to be a fact.

These two doctors prescribed medication to unsuspecting Panamanian’s as well as internationals that had no idea that these doctors were dressed in a guise. The Panamanian government allowed its people to be placed in harm’s way by using the services, a Venezuelan taxi driver and a Colombian drug trafficker, running out of a facility that was funded and paid for by the USA.

This is where you, the voters have the chance now in the 2019 elections to decide if Juan Carlos Varela is compassionate enough for the job and really does care for his people, and is a true practising catholic. We at Panama Human Rights see the president through different eyes, is he only wanted to be elected for power to hobnob with the likes of Pope Francis and Donald Trump, then travel the globe at Panama’s expense whilst his fellow countrymen are left at the hands of the internationals to decide whether his people have medication or not, or who can see a real doctor or not. You, the voters must decide.

If this scenario turned out to be you have one of your children or father incarcerated in these conditions would you vote for President Juan Carlos Varela knowing he does not give a damn about you or your human rights?

In desperation, many prisoners such as me shopped around for the best quote when it came to medication being the Mickey Mouse doctors running the clinic were not always the cheapest. The below cream was sold to me by a police commando Rodriguez, I was advised this was the best for my arthritis, besides it had expired one year earlier, it was meant to be applied evenly around my vagina, this came at a cost of $10, thankfully my vagina is fine now.

To control my multiple infections I was forced to purchase on the black market stolen medication that the Panamanians had hijacked on route from ‘Merced’ medical clinic, these pills were taken out of people’s prescription by cutting a hole in the side of the bags using a razor blade then removing some but not all of the medication.

The pills below, I had no idea what they were but cost me $1.00 each and if they were the correct pill for my medical condition, but I had no choice, being the pain was excruciating.

Under the Vitamin section on this site you will see a fellow inmate ‘Mike selling medication off his pop up pharmacy, in full view of the National police, then goes on to offer me an injection for $15 that he would administer for free by himself.

Sargent Solis also became a pharmacist, supplying horse cream for my joints, that earned him $15 in the process, which included his consultation, and the prescription.

La Joya receives all rejected, generic medication from Santo Tomas Hospital that has come to the end of its use-by date.

British Ben was riddled with lice bites and a serious spider infection to his scalp, The Red Cross did interview us both at the La Joya administration building regarding our medical issues but this was basically a lip service mission and did nothing else by way of getting us help, we both felt let down by the Red Cross as they saw it as a day’s outing when we thought they were there to provide us with help.

After Ben’s many weeks in pain he did receive some anti-biotic cream, only to find out that it was expired and past its shelf life date, this practice is normal for the prisoners to receive discarded or expired medication from the main hospital located in Panama City, Santo Thomas.

Merced Medical Clinic- La Joya

Many opportunities arose from being a doctor, one of these was to accept the highest bribe to be in the bi-weekly raffle of patients who could visit a real doctor at the Merced clinic located 5 minutes away from building 6. These two doctors controlled who stayed on the list and who was removed, in trying to see a doctor myself I arranged for the British Embassy to intervene as many attempts I had made had failed, it took the Embassy 10 months, some 6 requests before I managed to see a doctor, the Embassy failed to understand that the ultimate decision-maker was not the prison director Ronaldo Lopes who the requests were sent to, but Ernesto and Carlos.

Besides only having the one opportunity in going to the clinic throughout out my stay, when the big day did finally arrive I was given five minutes with a doctor, this entailed only a visual examination without any physical examination taking place, I was prescribed medication but this sadly was stolen by guards who should have delivered the medication to building 6.

Panama June 15, 2015. The Vice-Minister of government, María Luisa Romero; The Vice-minister of Health, Miguel Mayo and the director of the penitentiary system, Gabriel Pinzón took a tour of the Virgen de la Merced clinic where medical care is provided to the deprived of liberty of the Jewel and the gem, in order to evaluate the teams with which it counts the same and the need that exists of human resource.

 A visit was also made to the Physiotherapy clinic, the General medicine and dentistry clinics of one of the nine clinics that the new jewel has.

 The Vice-Minister of government, María Luisa Romero, said that this tour is a sample of the excellent coordination between the Mingob and the MINSA to ensure that all deprived of freedom have better medical attention.

 Romero explained that the new jewel requires five medical teams to cover the clinics of the five sectors that make up the penitentiary centre, which also has two physiotherapy clinics.

 The Vice-minister of Health, Miguel Mayo praised the structures of the clinics of the new jewel and indicated that they are committed to the appointment of the medical team.

 Mayo said they would first staff the new jewel sector E, with about 15 health officials among physicians and administrative officers. The official indicated that to cover all the clinics of this penitentiary centre it is required for about 200 people to work in two shifts.

 In the count of the endowment of Medicines, Mayo recommended that the budget that the Mingob has for the purchase of medicines can be transferred to the MINSA for them to make the purchases and to be able to provide with many more medicines to the penitentiary system.

Karen Holder, head of penitentiary Health of the penitentiary system, said that once they transfer the deprived of liberty to the new jewel, the clinics of the five sectors will attend between 25 and 30 deprived of freedom daily. In addition to this, the Prescriptions are delivered by prison guards or the police and should be signed for by the patient personally upon delivery to the prison building, in my case neither happened despite lobbying the British embassy who noted this in their records 27th March 2014 (Nick’s prescription have gone missing)

Below is how prescriptions should have been delivered into building 6 via a custodial, seated left of the picture, this inmate is ‘Glen Klages James, Passport number: QA557375 Citizenship: Canadian ’ signs for his prescriptions that he duly receives.

The total length of time from arriving at La Joya in seeing a doctor took some 8 months, today I still suffer from the mental and physical abuses brought about by the state of the Republic of Panamá, and now instead of Panama picking up my medical expenses the United Kingdom has the honour, at UK taxpayers’ expense.

To further endorse the hijacking of appointments are the British Embassy notes:

(Click image to read in full)

I ensured documenting these sabotaged events in my diary, as well as asking the duty commanding officer to log the cancellations in the prison daily logbook confirming that my appointments were cancelled, and my name had been clearly scratched out and replaced with someone else on the list.

Given building 6 housed 477 inmates visiting the clinic was a lottery. Merced clinic would only accept 10-15 inmates every two weeks, this being the case spaces were sold to the highest bidder rather than who really did need medical attention. 

Below picture was taken from the police commando’s log giving my name and page numbers of my cancelled appointments.

No one controls the hand they are dealt in life but health policies and programmes can help ensure no one is left behind. Everyone—no matter what situation they are born into, live, work or play in—is entitled to the right to health. Unfortunately, even within the same country, people have vastly different stories to tell about their health depending on their sex and gender, economic status, level of education, place of residence, age and any other potential base for discrimination.

This photo story highlights just some of the inequalities in access to and quality of health care that exist between populations in Panama, often only kilometres apart. The integration of equity, human rights, gender and social determinants into WHO policies and programmes is vital in responding to these grave inequalities, and in promoting the human rights for inmates of La Joya prison.

Can’t hear you… What did you say?!

Besides many inmates pulling teeth for each other using cocaine to numb the gums they also helped each other with ear infections caused by cockroaches laying eggs inside the ear when inmates were asleep, this also included spiders.

Inmates sleeping with the face covered to stop roaches from going in the ears or up the nose

When the infection had manifested, it caused inmates to have severe ear rashes. The way in which they used to deal with excruciating pressure, as well as the ear blockage problem, was using a rolled-up discarded newspaper the police commando had left behind, then rolling it into a funnel cone, then lit the end whilst the other end was attached inside the ear, 9 times out of 10 it worked, plus it removed any unwanted ear hair.

No one should be degraded to this level of survival, the Panamanian government has a total disregard for human life, many suffered unnecessarily at the hands of this, and previous governments, we at Panama Human Rights feel extremely strongly that these injustices do not go unpunished and that Panama should be held liable for its actions and have its human rights card revoked until they obey and follow international laws and conventions.

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