Medical students on Monday marched on Merida’s Paseo de Montejo to protest unsafe conditions.
The protestors demanded answers for the deaths of three colleagues, among them Mariana Sánchez, who was murdered in rural Chiapas, where she interned.
The protestors carried signs reading “do I have to die before the university does something?” and “Mom, sorry for not becoming a doctor, I was murdered.”
Medical professionals and students across Mexico also took to Twitter to protest the murders and call for action using the hashtag #JusticiaParaMariana.
Protest organizers requested formal talks between medical faculties and student representatives to guarantee the safety of medical interns.
There were also calls for new safety measures such as the deployment of medical interns in pairs, especially for female medical students who are sent off to faraway communities. Many medical students also complained about the lack of legal resources at their disposal, as well as unacceptable working conditions, insufficient supplies and excessively long working hours.
In Mexico, graduates of all university programs are required to complete a year of social service to get their professional license. However, in the case of doctors, this practice has turned into a ploy by the government to acquire free labor in rural communities that are unable to attract medical professionals, critics say.
Mariana Sánchez, 24, was a medical student and surgeon graduate working at a clinic in Ocosingo. She was found strangled to death on Jan. 28, just weeks after she reported a sexual assault to police and requested a transfer to another hospital.
Officials said they are in contact with the victim’s family and will provide support as they investigate Sánchez’s death.