The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Human Tidal Wave to Defend Health Care

Nov 21, 2022

This article is translated from the November 18 issue #2833 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Madrid, Spain’s capital, on November 13 against the years-long deterioration of the health care system.

The protestors’ anger targeted Isabel Diaz Ayuso, a leader of the right-wing Popular Party and current president of the Madrid region. Indeed, health care is managed at the regional level in Spain. Ayuso herself embodies the rancid, contemptuous, reactionary right wing to the core. She often cuts deals with wealthy friends. During Covid when the dead were accumulating in retirement homes, Ayuso gave her brother a lucrative public contract to supply the region with facemasks at exorbitant prices.

As elsewhere, Covid exposed a health care system damaged by years of budget cuts and privatization. It only got worse under Ayuso. Appointments to see a specialist or to have an operation are postponed indefinitely. Emergency rooms are overwhelmed. Neighborhood clinics and emergency centers are closing. When one reopens, as happened this fall, it’s without a doctor on site! Ayuso’s solution is to use nurses equipped with digital devices to take care of all patients by teleconsultation. And always more privatization.

Expressions of anger had been bubbling to the surface for months. First in neighborhoods like Getafe in the suburbs of Madrid. In spring, rallies there to stop the oldest health center in the city from closing attracted more than 10,000 people. The situation degenerated through summer into the start of the school year. Demonstrations and strikes multiplied, attracting more and more people. The demonstration of November 13 was massive. It went well beyond the usual activist circles. Families, patients, health workers—particularly those hired during the pandemic under the so-called “Covid contracts” who were laid off six months ago—all were there to say enough already!

The national government under socialist Pedro Sanchez, allied with left-wing Podemos and the Communist Party, is not unhappy to see people’s anger focused on the competence of regional and not national leadership. But the national government is as responsible as the regional administration for deteriorating social conditions. In recent years, Spain has showered the bosses with all kinds of subsidies and okayed the jump in energy prices. Faced with this crisis situation, hopefully anger will overflow beyond the one field of health care, to make the capitalists pay.