Thousands of Spanish public health workers have taken to the streets of Madrid to protest against the government’s austerity measures.
Tuesday’s demonstration was part of a second day of a public health workers strike in the capital against the forthcoming privatization of many hospitals and health centers.
The protesters were holding anti-austerity flags as they marched in Madrid.
“Privatization cannot happen. They cannot privatize something that belongs to all of us and that we already pay for with our taxes,” said Doctor Conchita Arroyo.
Nurse Oscar Martinez said the government’s austerity cuts are affecting the quality of the care for patients in public hospitals.
“The cuts have been so abrupt that floors that used to have four nurses now have two, and patients are the ones suffering the consequences. They do not get the same attention,” Martinez stated.
The Spanish economy, the fourth-largest in the 17-nation eurozone, is suffering from the aftershocks of a real estate bust that has devastated not just banks but families as well.
Battered by the global financial downturn, the Spanish economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, taking with it millions of jobs. Unemployment is approaching 25 percent.
The worsening eurozone debt crisis has increased Spain’s financing costs and the country is seeking a European Union bailout similar to the one Greece received.
On June 9, eurozone finance ministers agreed to lend 100 billion euros to Spain to save its teetering banks, which means more debt will be added to Madrid’s already massive debt burden.
Economists say Spain has entered into a second recession. The country has imposed unpopular austerity measures and economic reforms in an effort to persuade its lenders that it is serious about decreasing its overblown deficit to 6.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2012 and 4.5 percent in 2013.