Around 10,000 people, according to figures from the Guardia Urbana, took to the streets of Barcelona yesterday to protest about the proposed cuts to Catalan health services (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico).The demonstration was focused around Plaça Sant Jaume, location of the Palau de la Generalitat, and surrounding streets, although with so many people taking part, the event also spilled over onto Via Laietana. Nurses, doctors and medical assistants, wearing white coats, were the majority of those taking part and they were joined by teachers, neighbourhood associations and trade unions. The focus of the protests were Catalan president Artur Mas and the Catalan health minister Boi Ruiz, and there were calls for the resignation of the latter. The anger of those taking part was increased by two declarations made by Ruiz, considered insidious lies by many in the helath sector: the first, that the doctors taking part in the demo were more concerned by their salary than the cuts to services, and the second, that the Generalitat insists that the cuts have not yet begun; some of those taking part were all too keen to provide examples of restrictions on medical tests, material, hospital beds and operations.
FC Barcelona will today start legal action against the COPE radio station over claims made of drug-taking at the club (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The case will be brought before the civil courts of Barcelona, with Barça seeking €6,190,090 from Radio Popular SA (also known as the COPE) in compensation. The club is suing for "illegal interference in the right to honour" ("intromissió il·legítima en el dret a l'honor"). On March 13th, during the sports programme El partido de las 12, the radio journalist Juan Antonio Alcalá accused football players from the first team of Barça and the club's doctors of doping practices. By bringing the legal action, club president Sandro Rosell is living up to his promise to take unambiguous action against the rumour. The club issued a statement yesterday afternoon saying that the claims of Alcalá injured "the image, prestige and reputation of the club, and signifies a clear contravention of a constitutional right that the legal action seeks to redress."
The president of the Generalitat Artur Mas and the deputy prime minister of Spain, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba met this week to discuss the ongoing economic crisis being faced by Catalunya (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The meeting came at a time when the two governments have been unable to reach agreement on what action to take to deal with the budget deficit, leading to a serious political crisis. However, the two men decided that the administrations are "condemned to understand each other", and that there is a political will to reach agreement on what action to take. Rubalcaba visited Mas at the Palau de la Generalitat on Wednesday, and the encounter lasted more than an hour with the politicians seeking common ground regarding the way to deal with the problem. Mas is said to have made clear to Rubalcaba the lines across which the Generalitat will not cross when it comes to making cuts; he is concerned that too many cuts to the welfare state will cause problems with social cohesion and threats to coexistence.