Spain: Santiago and Madrid: a great wave in defense of public health care

Thousands and thousands of people have taken to the streets in defense of a quality public health system. The national and regional governments are pointing their fingers at each other. They are more concerned with the PSOE-PP electoral dispute than solving social problems. It is necessary to coordinate the actions of the Autonomous Communities and to call for a general strike.

By Rubén Tzanoff

Santiago collapsed by a massive mobilization

Around 50 thousand people crowded Santiago, La Coruña, in a demonstration against the “budget cuts, applied by the successive governments of the Popular Party” and the “privatization” of services. The action was called by the SOS Public Health Care platform, institutions, parties, unions and various Galician entities. This platform has presented a worker’s legislative initiative with thousands of signatures supporting a change of model in primary care. In the autonomous community of Galicia, the demand is directed to the Junta, presided by Alfonso Rueda, (PPdeG).

Thousands of people on the streets of Madrid again

In November 2022, around 300 thousand people crowded the Cibeles square against the emergency plan of the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso (PP). And on Sunday, February 12, a bigger demonstration than the previous one took place. Four columns full of doctors, nurses, health workers and neighbors converged at the Cibeles with signs reading: “healthcare is not for sale, we defended it”, “cuts kill”. The call was made by 70 neighborhood associations from the municipalities and neighborhoods of Madrid.

Absolute madness for patients and doctors

Such unrest is due to the disastrous changes brought about by Ayuso. Many municipal outpatient clinics have no doctors, as they have to go from town to town to cover out-of-hospital emergencies. And, when technicians go out to cover vital emergencies, they are forced to do so without a doctor. Specialty appointments can take months and care is deficient since, as there are few doctors, consultations last only a few minutes and are stipulated in advance. These are awful situations for both the patient and the entire healthcare team.

Who is truly guilty for this?

The budget cuts in health come from 2012, with the “sniping” of Mariano Rajoy (PP) when he was president. Since that time, until now, the situation has not been reversed, in fact, it has worsened. President Pedro Sánchez blames the situation on the regional governments of the PP, whose presidents do the same with the “progressive coalition” government PSOE-Unidos Podemos. They are cynical. Both of them are responsible for the deterioration of public healthcare and the advance of privatizations that make healthcare a business. The only thing they care about is the next elections.

Unifying demands and calling for a general strike

The union leaders of the majority unions, UGT and CC.OO. are speaking out in favor of the demands and promoting actions. But that is not enough. It is necessary to unify the demands of all the autonomous communities in a great national demand and the call for a general strike in support of the demands of health care workers and all sectors. All of this should also include a list that encompasses the full recovery of wages in the face of the advance of inflation, better working conditions and the most urgent workers’ demands raised in the face of the crisis. 

Full support to the health claim

Doctors, nurses, technicians and neighbors of Galicia and Madrid have set a great example to be imitated everywhere. If they win, we all win. Quality public health care is an imperative need for the great popular majorities. It must be defended, first of all, by deploying active solidarity with the struggles in progress. The defense of the public, of wages, working conditions, rights and social conquests, are the tasks that the working class and the people have taken in hand also in France, the United Kingdom and other countries, like Peru, on the way to make the capitalists pay for the crisis, as proposed by the International Socialist League (ISL).