New year, same demands. Citizens summoned by social groups, medical organizations, nurses, unions and political parties have taken to the streets of Madrid this Sunday. After the massive event last November that brought together hundreds of thousands of people, the residents have once again demonstrated to demand “public health and solutions to the primary care plan” of the Government of the Community of Madrid chaired by Isabel Díaz Ayuso. According to data from the Government Delegation in Madrid, 250,000 people demonstrated this Sunday in the capital.

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This time the protest has come in the midst of a crisis in primary care, the most obvious symptom of which is the indefinite strike by family doctors and paediatricians, which has lasted for more than nine weeks. “In the three months that have passed since 13N things have only gotten worse. Now more than ever it is essential to be next to the toilets, who are fighting like us to safeguard primary care”, explained José Luis Yuguero, coordinator of the demonstration.

Likewise, the organizers once again denounce the dismantling of the extra-hospital emergencies, which the Community reopened this fall after two years of a pandemic in a hasty manner and without sufficient personnel. Among the demands of this call, there is also an increase in the budget for primary care and an increase in staff in all professional categories, in addition to health care for all migrants and ending sanctions against health workers who report the precarious working conditions.

Under the slogan “Madrid rises up and demands public health”, four columns of inhabitants of the neighborhoods and towns of the Community have left at 12:00 pm for the Plaza de Cibeles in the capital, where later the organizers have read the manifesto of the protest. The southern column, which last started in Atocha, this Sunday left Legazpi, to allow the many citizens of the southern neighborhoods of the capital to take part in the call in a more organized way.

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Before beginning the demonstration, the deputy of United We Can in the Madrid Assembly Alejandra Jacinto has assured that “today we are going to see how thousands of neighbors come out to defend public services and the health of all Madrid residents.”

The spokesperson for UP in Madrid has also stated that “it is evident that Mrs. Ayuso is very nervous and does not stop saying jokes, does not stop saying barbaric things”, in reference to the reaction of the Community of Madrid after the widow’s speech by Carlos Saura at the Goya Awards ceremony, when he thanked the toilets for their work. “Their atrocities are not going to cover up reality and the reality is that there are almost a million people from Madrid who today have neither a primary care doctor nor an assigned pediatrician,” added Jacinto.

The deputy of Más Madrid, Iñigo Errejón, has valued the demonstration as a reflection of a “majority of Madrid men and women who agree on a very basic idea, which is the idea that makes us a society: we want to live in a place where your health and your well-being do not depend on your money. The deputy has also declared that the waiting lists in the Community of Madrid as well as the lack of doctors in many health centers after the failure of President Ayuso’s plan for Primary Care “is not an oversight.”

Together with Errejón, the Más Madrid candidate for the presidency of the Community of Madrid, Mónica García, lamented that Madrid’s public health “has endured the pandemic, has endured the cuts from the Popular Party, but it cannot last four years more than the programmed negligence of Mrs. Ayuso and the Popular Party”. García has called on citizens to choose in the next elections “between public health or a Popular Party of a lady Ayuso” in which “arrogance and contempt for the jewel in our crown predominate.”

The Madrid PSOE has also made an appeal this Sunday to the “calibre majority” of Madrid society and has employed Ayuso and Almeida to “listen” to the social majority that protects the public health of the Community of Madrid. “It is not easy to find a Madrid citizen who is not grateful after these 40 years to public health and therefore this demonstration shows that hundreds of thousands of families are concerned about the situation”, stressed the general secretary of the PSOE of Madrid and candidate to the Presidency of the Community of Madrid, Juan Lobato, during his participation in the demonstration.

During her attendance at the march, the general secretary of UGT-Madrid, Marina Priero, has demanded that the Ayuso government provide material and personal resources to the Madrid public health system to guarantee the right to health of citizens, as well as the reopening of out-of-hospital, home care and rural emergency services.

For her part, the general secretary of the CCOO of Madrid, Paloma López, has demanded “absolutely” different health policies from the Community of Madrid and not to transfer public money to private hospitals. “We find ourselves with a significant transfer of public capital to private hospitals and that cannot be. We need an absolutely different policy ”, she has stressed, stressing that the little money of its own that Madrid collects is not invested in committed health investments.

The President of the Government and Secretary General of the PSOE, Pedro Sánchez, has vindicated his defense of “dignified, quality and universal” public health against the “Popular Party model that is whoever can heal”. In his speech at the presentation ceremony of the socialist candidate for Mayor of Malaga, Daniel Pérez, Sánchez asked “not to forget how important” it is to have “free, universal and quality” public healthcare in Spain, even more so after such “complexes” of the pandemic.

Large influx from before the start of the march

The section between José Abascal and Raimundo Fernández Villaverde was already fully occupied when the march started at 12 noon. Another column filled the Plaza de Legazpi and the Paseo de las Delicias, with thousands of people marching in the direction of Cibeles shouting “Public Health” and “Ayuso out”. There were banners from neighborhood associations in the north of Madrid or from Amnesty International, elaborated over time, and other more simple ones, even a simple sheet of paper printed in a transparent folder, which a lady had attached to her coat, all with variants of the same message of health defense.

People exchanged impressions about the influx, which from this column began to seem massive at the beginning of the march. The first chants were heard, for example: “With this counselor we are going ass”, in reference to the person in charge of Health of the Community of Madrid, Enrique Ruiz Escudero.

Workers from the municipal cleaning service took photographs as the column increased in size and occupied the five lanes of the road in the downward direction, while people continued to emerge from the train and subway stations, those present were located and instructions were given by phone to meet.

A mother has taken the opportunity for her young daughters to go rollerblading on the asphalt. A police van traveling in the opposite direction has called the attention of a clueless man who was occupying the lane despite the siren and gave a start when he found the car. Then a whistle seller appeared. Two euros for one, five for two. Right away he found clients.

Ricardo Fuentes watched the parade from the sidewalks of Paseo de las Delicias. His daughters, Inés and Laura, aged 5 and 8, accompanied him with a banner that said “I want my pediatrician.” “In our health center there is only one professional, who works morning and afternoon. Most of the times that I take the girls to the center they have to be seen by an adult doctor”, explained Fuentes.

The organizers of the march have recalled this Sunday from the Cibeles stage that 600,000 Madrid adults do not have an assigned doctor and 212,000 children do not have a pediatrician of reference to emphasize the need to guarantee that everyone has one of these assigned professionals.

The demonstration has been organized by more than 70 citizen platforms and associations that encompass the entire social fabric of Madrid, from the right to housing, to pensions, including ecology and migrant groups. “It is clear that this demonstration is political, public health is a political matter. But it is not partisan, since Ayuso likes to insinuate otherwise. It is a call from the street, participatory. Throw back all the theories and conspiracies of the Community against us, which shows that we are not manipulated by any party”, its organizer José Luis Yuguero has claimed.

Since its call, the demonstration has received the support of numerous representatives of the world of culture. Actors like Juan Diego Botto, Antonio de la Torre or the singer Rozalén have shared videos and messages of support. Opposition parties such as Más Madrid and Unidas Podemos, whose representatives have been part of the march, have also joined.


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