Catalan community groups take the Minister of Health to Superior Court with a Criminal Law Suite

Barcelona, Spain, November 19, 2012

Several community groups in Catalonia have taken the Catalan Minister of Health, Boi Ruiz, to the Catalan Superior Court with a criminal law suit for the radical cutbacks in public health care system* carried out in the past two years. The law suit is based on Article 542 of the Spanish Criminal Code which says that it is an offense for a public official to impede citizens from carrying out their civic rights. And according to the Spanish Constitution, health care is a civic right.

The brutal cutbacks that the Ruiz administration has been carrying out in the past few months have included closing health care centers, shutting down emergency services, an increase of 42% in the waiting lists and many other austerity measures which have put Catalonians’ health in danger. The groups that are suing Ruiz and 3 other leading health administrators, argue, with a 80-page law suit and 400 supporting documents, that Ruiz’s excuse of having “economic problems” and “the crisis” for cutting back, are not valid, because no economic problem can justify braking the law, as Ruiz’s administration has done and continues doing.

The law suit is also denouncing the following offenses regarding not providing help in emergency situations (Article 196 of the Spanish Criminal Code), traffic of influences (Article 428) and negotiations and activities forbidden to public officials (Article 441).

The groups that have presented the criminal law suit are: Liga del Síndrome Fatiga Crónica (the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis League), ATTAC-Acordem, ATTAC-Catalunya, CATAC-CTS-IAC (a public workers’ union) and Dempeus per la Salut Pública (“On our Feet for Public Health”). These groups are under the umbrella of La PARS, Plataforma Afectadas por los Recortes Sanitarios (Regroupment of those affected by the health care cutbacks).



*Note: In Catalonia, like in the rest of Spain, the public health care system is of high quality and for all citizens. There is also, up to now, smaller private health care system. It is the siphoning of the public health care system into private hands which is one of our main concerns.

Barcelona, Spain, March 21, 2012

A platform of citizens asks the Catalan District Attorney’s Office (Public Prosecutor’s Office, in Spanish: “Fiscalía Superior de Catalunya”) to investigate the policies that are impeding citizens’ access to public health care

                 Public health care in the Spanish autonomous community of Catalonia is being taken apart through budgetary and service cutbacks, which is resulting in obstacles to the access to health care and putting in danger people’s health. In Spain, access to health care is a right that all citizens have under the Spanish Constitution and it is guaranteed and protected both by state (Spanish) and autonomous (Catalan) laws.

                With the excuse of having to implement “measures against the crisis” and of “austerity measures”, there are clear signs that the public health care sector in Catalonia is being privatized, not to improve the quality of services, but for the benefit of the private health care sector* in which the present leaders of the Catalan government (the “Generalitat”), who are supposed to be managing the public health care system, have had and still have important investments and clear interests. In another words: those who are supposed to be managing our public health care system are actually putting all their efforts into enriching their private health care businesses. This privatization and the clear economic interests of these administrators who are making these changes in the health care policies are put in evidence by what the Generalitat and its Health Department are doing and its effects on the social reality, through the statements that they are making in the press, and through their professional profile which is full of conflicting interests.

Because of all of this, on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, we, the PARS, a platform of anonymous citizens, unemployed and underemployed people, workers, community groups such as the “Associació de Veins de l’Ostia del barri popular de la Barceloneta” and the “Plataforma en Defensa de la Barceloneta”, patients’ associations (amongst them the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis League or “Liga SFC”), a “Democracia Real Ya Barcelona” working group and others activists from the “15M Movement” (the “Indignados” which is the Spanish Occupation Movement) have presented to the Catalan District Attorney’s Office (Public Prosecutor’s Office) a formal complaint to demand that judicial procedures begin in order to investigate the very serious events that are taking place in the Catalan health care system.

We denounce this because, under Article 542 of the Spanish Criminal Code, it is an offense if a public servant “knowingly prevents anyone from the exercise of their civil rights recognized by the Constitution or other Laws”. We also demand the investigation of other crimes and offenses which might emerge from the investigation which should take place.

Those of us who sign this complaint think that the deterioration of the health care sector is not really due to the economic crisis. We think that additional harm is being caused by the transfer of public health care services to the private health care sector. Also we think that the budgetary cutbacks that are being applied are being done on purpose and this has been made very clear through the statements made lately by those responsible for the Catalan health care in which they say, amongst other things, that all Catalans should buy private health insurance.

The criminal offenses that we are talking about are explained in detail in the report we are presenting. The formal complaint is a document elaborated collectively and it is made up of 73 pages and 71 annexed documents for a total of about 300 pages. This document puts in evidence the deprivation of citizens’ rights, it describes the privatizing actions and interests and, to sum it up, the destruction of the Catalan public health care system.

Plataforma de Afectadas por los Recortes en Sanidad (PARS)

(Platform of those affected by the health care cutbacks)

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