Catalans continue to support president of the Generalitat Artur Mas and his Convergència i Unió (CiU) government to get the region out of the economic crisis, according to a poll published today (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The survey, carried out for El Periodico by Gabinet d'Estudis Socials i Opinió Pública (GESOP), also found out that while the majority are against CiU's exclusive collaboration with the Partido Popular in Catalunya, the party led by Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, would win more seats in the Catalan parliament if elections were held today. Meanwhile, the poll continues to show the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) suffering in the eys of voters, with only Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (ICV) maintaining any kind of dignity for the left-wing parties that, until last November, made up the Generalitat coalition government for seven years.
The cuts in the Catalan health budget are threatening the Pallapupas, a clown group that visits children in hospital to help cheer them up and ease their nerves in the face of their treatment (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The 25 clowns of the NGO may go with a nervous child into the operating theatre, be there when they wake up from surgery or explain the process that they are about to undergo so they understand what it involves, helping with the concerns of both the young patient and their parents. The Pallapupas work in 16 different Catalan hospitals and as well as working with children, they also help elderly patients and those with mental health problems. The NGO was created in 2000 by Angie Rosales, who is today the director of the organisation, and during the past decade the clowns have entertained and assisted more than 50,000 people, of who 38,000 were children. Now their work in certain hospitals is at risk due to spending cuts, particularly in Sabadell and Terrassa, where, Rosales said, the service would finish at the end of this month, while at the Lleida Arnau de Vilanova hospital, there is only enough money to pay for the clowns until the end of the year. The financing of Pallapupas depends in the main on the budgets of the hospitals where they work. According to Angie Rosales, the standard functioning of the clowns in a hospital requires an annual budget of between €20,000 and €30,000 a year.
The 15-M movement, which for almost two months was focused on Barcelona's Plaça Catalunya has started spreading to other neighbourhoods in the city and towns outside the Catalan capital (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Around 120 groups of 'indignados' have created small assemblies based on those that were created in Plaça Catalunya to create a network of protest groups in which local issues are coming to the fore rather than the large demonstrations such as that held in Barcelona on June 19th. This was the aim of the 15-M protestors: to dismantle the Plaça Catalunya camp (those people who remain camping out in the square are viewed by many as on the margins of the wider movement) and give a voice to local activism. This was the message of the neighbourhood assemblies that took place in Plaça Catalunya yesterday [the square will still be used as a daytime forum]: coordination and decentralisation. Some of the towns that have undertaken local protests include Montcada i Reixac where people are calling for a reduction in the wages of councillors, Masnou where inhabitants want there to be greater resident participation in politics and Noguera where a popular vote could be held about issues of town planning and the rescue of banks with public funds.