The protestors camped out in Plaça Catalunya have decided to close down the site this week (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). While the city-centre spot is clearly a great asset to the protestors that they don't necessarily want to give up, in an assembly held last night it was agreed to use the space as a kind of agora for regular day-time activities and to stop using it as an overnight campsite. Health, hygiene, security and fatigue were given as the main arguments for abandoning the camp and instead creating a permanent 'alternative' space in the square as well as to decentralise the so-called 15-M movement (named after May 15th, the day when the protests started following a public demonstration). "We've won, now we have to manage the victory," said one of the protestors in favour of bringing the camp to an end. "We don't want to create a theme park revolution where people just come and look at us, but we want a real revolution." Some of those taking part were opposed to breaking up the camp, fearing that the movement would lose momentum and strength without such an important space. However, when a vote was taken during the assembly, at which around 2,000 people were present, the majority were clearly in favour of the motion.
The economic crisis and especially the budget cuts introduced by the Generalitat to health centres around Catalunya this year are threatening to cause a new wave of nurses abandoning the region to seek work abroad (read article in Catalan here, Avui). A previous exodus to the UK, France and Italy took place between 2001 and 2006 and it looks likely that a repeat of the mass move abroad could be seen in the near future. Since the start of the year, the Col·legi Oficial d'Infermeres i Infermers de Barcelona (COIB) has seen an increase of 45 percent in people seeking assistance about moving abroad compared to 2010. "We've moved from the full employment figures of a year ago, when there was actually a lack of professionals, to an unemployment level of 21 percent amongst the youngest nurses," said the director of COIB, Josep París. In the first five months of this year, 528 people sought information about moving to other countries, with the UK, France and Italy still the most popular possible destinations, although París said that while Catalan qualifications are well-regarded in such places, they don't have the ability to absorb the same quantity of nurses coming from abroad as 10 years ago. However, some women are so desperate that they are seriously considering moving even it if it just to become waitresses, he added.
The Generalitat is planning to increase the cost of enrolling at university in Catalunya by 7.6 percent (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). This will be the largest increase in the matriculation fee in the past 10 years and puts Catalunya in the upper level of university fee rankings as agreed by the Spanish Conferencia General de Política Universitaria, made up by the autonomous communities and the Spanish education ministry, for 2011-12. The rise in the price of studying at university is set in line with inflation rates each year, with the autonomous communities able to add up to four percent to the annual rate; this means that for the new university year, across Spain, matriculation in a public university could go up by between 3.6 (the inflation rate at March 31st, 2011) and 7.6 percent. While university sources say that they have been contacted by the Generalitat's secretary of universities to say that the higher figure will be applied here, the director of the department, Antoni Castellà, insists that the negotiations over the matter are ongoing and nothing has been decided. However, the universities view the rise as a done deal and are, in principle, happy to accept it.