Often said to be a conservative city, Jerez de la Frontera took to the street on mass this weekend to defend a public, quality healthcare system. According to police estimates, around 5,000 people streamed into the central plaza to listen to the movement’s leader, Joaquín Fernández, decry the cuts and negligence which left his wife waiting injured on a footpath for some 45 minutes before being attended to after being hit by a motorcycle.
The protest was called by Joaquín Fernández – husband of the injured pedestrian – organised by the Jerez Federation of Neighbourhood Associations, and protagonised by the citizenry itself. Though Jerez rarely sees such massive public demonstrations, this proves that wherever there is organisation and leadership, the people will respond.
With megaphone in hand, Joaquín told his audience that he of all people is there because “…the politicians are more isolated from the people than ever. I’m here because of my wife and because a lot of people have written to me, but also because I’ve got a memory and I see that the politicians have forgotten about the people”. He declared: “We do not consent to further cuts in health and education. We should be united to oppose them and ought to begin to wake up once and and for all!”
Joaquín became an activist for healthcare after his wife was knocked to the ground by a passing motorcycle and left unattended for nearly 45 minutes. Reports from the two major papers – El Diario de Jerez and La Voz del Sur – say that the city has just five ambulances to cover Jerez’s 212,000 residents, meaning that some vehicles attend to between 15 and 20 calls a day and up to 400 per month.
Following Joaquín’s words, the crowd cheered that great anthem of popular revolt in the Spanish-speaking world: “¡El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!” – “The people united will never be defeated!”
If you enjoyed this report, let me know. And if you’re concerned about cuts and privatisation of your public healthcare, then get out there and organise with others to defend what has taken decades and centuries to achieve – free and universal healthcare.