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Spain | Massive protest against government budget cuts in Madrid

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(Madrid) Tens of thousands of people marched through central Madrid on Sunday to demand an end to the budget cuts and privatizations affecting the crisis-ridden public health services in the Spanish capital region.

To the sound of drums and chanted slogans, demonstrators marched for a Marea Blanca, or “White Tide”, which drew 30,000 participants, according to a regional government spokesman.

Health services in the Madrid region have been under enormous pressure for years due to a lack of financial resources and staff, which forces more and more people to turn to hospital emergencies, now submerged.

This week, the SEMES association of emergency service employees pointed out that, in the capital, these services had recorded an increase of “10 to 20%” in the number of patients going there.

For its part, the ADSP, which also represents health professionals in Madrid, deplored that 300 people are waiting in the corridors for a bed to become available.


PHOTO MANU FERNANDEZ, ASSOCIATED PRESS

During Sunday’s parade, dozens of people unfurled a huge banner that read: “No to cuts and privatizations and yes to health care and public services”.

Demonstrators in particular held up signs to demand the resignation of the right-wing leader of the region, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, believing that “the cuts in health care are a criminal act”.

“The situation in Madrid is unsustainable due to the policies of intentional negligence and privatization implemented by Ayuso and his government, the results of which are clearly visible in the current state of the emergency services”, judged the ADSP this week.

“We cannot continue with an insufficient number of hospital beds, it gets worse every year with the reduction of their number in public (health) centers and the diversion of public money to private centers”, added this organization.

To expose the shortcomings of the public health sector in Spain, strikes are planned or threats of work stoppages have been made in at least eight of its 17 regions.


PHOTO MANU FERNANDEZ, ASSOCIATED PRESS

A man chants anti-austerity slogans during Sunday’s protest in Madrid.

In Madrid, general practitioners and paediatricians resumed an indefinite strike on Thursday that began on November 21 but was suspended a month later for the Christmas holidays.

This after the failure, according to their representatives, of negotiations with the regional health ministry.



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