News: Permitted to pass
Story by Sgt. Lindsey Schulte
BARAHONA, Dominica Republic - Medical Readiness Training Exercise personnel were stuck behind a protester's road blockade on their way to provide humanitarian assistance for citizens in the Paraiso municipality of Barahona, Dominican Republic, May 26. The MEDRETE is part of the Beyond the Horizon 2014 mission to provide medical care for citizens throughout Barahona.
The protestors were upset that the road conditions had not been improved a year after the president had promised to fix them.
“They didn't want anyone on the road until they were fixed,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Alejandro Castillo with the 352nd Combat Support Hospital out of Camp Parks in Dublin, California, officer in charge of the MEDRETE here.
Castillo prepared for trouble when the MEDRETE caravan's route was blocked by tires lit on fire on the roadway. They stopped the caravan a quarter mile before the burning tires and called for the Dominican Republic army, the local authorities with jurisdiction in the area.
Dominican Republic National Police and army arrived and led the caravan's route, blocked again, this time by two lines of protester's vehicles parked across the roadway.
“They were okay letting us through, but the other people didn't want to let us through because they wanted to go through as well. So, that created a little resentment,” said Castillo.
Castillo, Master Sgt. Robert I. Hughes, with the 71st Information Operations Group out of Austin, Texas, and Sgt. Gabriel Castillo from Boerne, Texas, with the 341st Tactical PSYOP Company out of San Antonio, Texas, worked with the Dominican Republic officials to convince the commuters to let the MEDRETE through.
“Once we got there, we spoke to them and told them what we were doing and if they didn't let us through we were going to go back,” said Castillo, “They said they would let us through because they knew we were working on the mission here in Paraiso.”
Unfortunately, the delay caused hundreds of patients to wait even longer for medical care.
“That caused an issue, because that put us two hours behind in our mission. Now we're here trying to take care of the patients,” said Castillo.
Had the protestors not allowed the humanitarian assistance mission to pass through their blockade, patients would have had to wait another day for care. Two-hour-late care is better than no MEDRETE at all for the day.