On April 28, Detention Resistance initiated in a call-in campaign to support Hever Alberto Mendoza Linares’ hunger strike. Linares is a Salvadoran asylum seeker and victim of medical neglect, who has been detained for over 2 years at Otay Mesa Detention Center.
Linares suffers from a medical condition that has intensified since his initial incarceration in February 2020. His experiences are documented in a Liberation News article highlighting unhygienic pandemic conditions at Otay Mesa Detention Center.
OMDC neglects doctor’s recommendation
On Feb. 7, Linares saw an outpatient doctor at UC San Diego Health. The doctor noted that Linares had exacerbated symptoms of acid reflux, including difficulty swallowing, tightness in the throat, the closing off of the throat and hemoptysis — spitting up blood from the lungs.
The doctor referred Linares to see a gastrointestinal specialist. However, on Feb. 18, Otay Mesa Detention Center opted to ignore this medical decision and “hold off GI Referral to monitor effectiveness of therapy first.” Since then, Linares has not received any outside medical attention.
Linares submitted several grievances outlining his need for medical attention. He notified OMDC of the various times he spit blood, had trouble breathing and was unable to eat. His grievances and requests to see the referred GI specialist are met with a lack of urgency, requiring him to “contact the medical staff if you have any problems.”
Linares initiates a hunger strike
April 20 marked the beginning of Linares’ second hunger strike at Otay Mesa Detention Center. Eight days later, Detention Resistance organized a call-in campaign to support his demands.
Callers were instructed to contact Otay Mesa Detention Center and Afod Paramo, the assistant field office director. Several callers mentioned that the line continued to ring for minutes, while others went to voicemail. One individual was able to reach an employee at OMDC, who after hearing the demands and condition of Linares stated, “He has never mentioned this to us,” which is an outright lie. Another caller was told that the detention center was unaware of Linares’ hunger strike.
That night, the detention center’s medical staff visited Linares. They gave Linares a welfare check and he was cleared.
Linares’ hunger strike lasted seven days. During that time he lost four pounds. On May 3, the Detention Resistance hotline received an update. The previous night Linares was taken to the medical unit in a wheelchair after experiencing breathing issues as well as chest, stomach and throat pain. That night he had another bout of hemoptysis.
The struggle for freedom continues
Linares still has not seen a GI specialist. The medical neglect Linares is experiencing is a common occurrence in jails and prisons across the country.
On March 8, Freedom for Immigrants and various other organizations, including Detention Resistance, Free Them All San Diego and the Party for Socialism and Liberation filed a complaint about the negligence, misconduct and mistreatment of 12 people currently or previously detained at Otay Mesa Detention Center. The complaint detailed abuse by Dr. Hyrsso Fernbach, CoreCivic’s contracted psychologist. Fernbach refused to believe patients’ symptoms and mocked them, using hateful and derogatory language.
Organizers from Detention Resistance stated that the call-in campaign will continue in hopes that Linares receives medical attention from an outside GI specialist.
You can support Hever Alberto Mendoza Linares by calling Otay Mesa Detention Center (619-671-8750) and Afod Paramo (619-661-3821) to demand Linares’ immediate release due to medical necessity.