Madrid’s right-wing government dismisses huge healthcare protest as a ‘failure’ | Spain

Madrid’s right-wing regional government has sought to dismiss a huge protest against its health policies that has brought at least 200,000 people to the streets of the Spanish capital as a ‘failure’, and accused opposition parties of use “dirty tricks” to exploit fears about the public health system.

Sunday’s protest, coordinated by neighborhood groups, medical unions and left-wing political parties, was organized to defend public health care against creeping privatization and to express concern over the restructuring of the primary care system. by the regional government.

The central government delegation in Madrid estimated the turnout at 200,000 people, but organizers said more than 650,000 joined the protest.

Some medical staff are already on strike against the new model of non-hospital emergency health centres, while nearly 5,000 local GPs and pediatricians are expected to join them later this month due to “the work overload, endless appointments and lack of time to see patients”.

Populist Madrid regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso responded to the high turnout and growing public anger by typically eccentric speech in which she reflected on the fall of the Berlin Wall, dusted off the ghost of the defunct Basque terrorist group Eta and accused Spain’s socialist-led coalition government of conspiring to create a “de facto federal and secular republic”. Ayuso said the event was organized at a time when Spain’s center-left Socialist Workers’ Party was eclipsed by its more left-wing rivals in the Más Madrid party.

The protest was coordinated by neighborhood groups, medical unions and left-wing political parties. Photography: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“Yesterday’s demonstration was not organized to defend public health care,” said Ayuso, who is one of the most prominent members of the conservative People’s Party (PP).

“It was organized to find a new far-left leadership for the Madrid region due to the collapse the socialist party is going to suffer. If this was just a public health protest, have no doubt that 2 million madridians would have attended.

Ayuso also suggested that critics of the region’s public health system didn’t know what they were talking about because they likely had private health care.

“Instead of seeking solutions through agreement and negotiation, instead of seeking a national agreement to solve the shortage of doctors, which is a real problem that affects the whole Spainthe left has chosen to politicize the difficulties,” she said.

“This is a destabilizing strategy by an irresponsible left that is desperately trying to cling to power or gain power – as is the case in Madrid – through confusion, agitation and beatings. down.”

A Madrid PP spokesman was even more blunt, calling the protest a “resounding failure” because “99%” of people in the region did not support it.

Ángela Hernández, surgeon and general secretary of Madrid AMYTS Medical Associationsaid the PP ignored reality.

“I didn’t expect to hear people from the Madrid regional government say that yesterday was a failure,” she told Antena 3 TV. the pandemic and the virus, but I didn’t expect to see any Holocaust deniers at yesterday’s protest.”

Mónica García, a doctor and spokesperson for Más Madrid, announced on Monday that her party had filed a formal complaint with the public ombudsman over what she called a “constant attack” on Madrid’s public health system.

“[The PP] think that when you go to a health center and find a tablet instead of a doctor, that’s a success,” said García. “And yet, when 600,000 people come out to defend a right as fundamental as the right to health, they call it a failure.”

Others, meanwhile, had anticipated Ayuso’s response to the protest.

“Right now, the Ayuso team will be weighing various options to try to cover up what happened today,” said Pablo Echenique, a deputy from Podemos. tweeted Sunday night. “They will put on a balaclava and announce Eta’s return in a distorted voice; they’ll say public health care is communism, or they’ll say the Spanish flag is a million years old.