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Catalonia, Corruption and Healthcare: Spanish Fast News

Ana Escaso analyses an eventful week’s news in Spain, with the nation going through health care system cuts, the Catalan bid for independence and one of the most long-lasting newspaper director’s dismissal due to government pressure. 

Referendum in Catalonia
On the 16th of January, the Parliament of Catalonia suggested a law proposition to Spanish Congress of Deputies with the aim of convening a referendum asking Catalan citizens for independence. The chosen date is the 9th of November and the questions are: Do you want Catalonia be considered as state? Do you want this state be independent?

Both Mariano Rajoy’s administration and the socialist opposition party have declared this referendum unconstitutional. The president of Catalonia, Artur Mas, has confirmed this referendum will take place but only if the Spanish government authorizes it.

According to El Pais, what is hidden under this provoking suggestion is a political manoeuvre to force the Spanish government to sit at the table and negotiate. The Catalan government then pretends to champion self-government through highlighting the current conditions and financial issues. However, the political debate has been lit up by  ‘blackmails’ that have been shot from Madrid to Barcelona and vice verse; meanwhile, the Catalan society is more entrenched than ever in their aims to head towards independence. Although European Parliament has considered it a national issue, an independent state of Catalonia would be immediately expelled from the European Union and be forced to reapply.

Spanish princess Infanta Cristina
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The youngest daughter of King Juan Carlos has been summoned by judge Jose Castro to testify in court over accusations of fraud and money-laundering, as part of  the Noos case in which her husband is involved and also accused. The court date is next 8th of March.

Infanta Cristina’s economic activity has been monitored for eight months to prove that there is enough evidence to charge her. As it is detailed, there are indications that the Princess was clearly aware that Aizoon, the company she half shares with her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, “must serve as scaffolding for the commission of tax offenses” and made ​​fraudulent charges with company funds, El Periodico reports.

The Minister of Justice, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, could have also been involved in Urdagarin’s business and could be called to testify shortly.

Anti abortion law reform
The same minister, Gallardon reformed Spanish abortion law last December. Free abortion is illegal as it was 30 years ago in Spain. This law can protect only cases of foetal anomalies that might damage women physically.

From Paris to Brussels, passing by Strasbourg, protests against Spanish abortion reforms are spreading out. Thousands of people gathered in front of the Spanish embassy in Belgium last Wednesday to protest and demand the freedom of decision for women.

As Eldiario.es reports, the Belgium and Spanish Socialist party with other organizations assembled the demonstration in which several members of the European Parliament participated expressing the rejection against abortion reform.

F.C. Barcelona’s scandal

Corruption has also reached the sporting spheres. The president of Sevilla F.C., Jose Maria Del Nido, was condemned 7 years in prison in 2011 and this time the president of F.C. Barcelona, Sandro Rosell, has been pushed to resign himself due to presumed tax irregularities in Barcelona player Neymar’s signing.

Rosell declared in his last news conference “an unfair and reckless accusation of misappropriation has resulted in a lawsuit against me in the High Court. From the beginning I said that the signing of Neymar Junior is correct and that recruitment has caused despair and envy of some of our adversaries”, news website Libertad Digital reports. However, Rosell confirmed his resignation to not damage the image of the Club.

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Healthcare system cuts

Recently, the British Medical Journal has published an article on Spanish healthcare system reforms warning about the impact of its negative effects on Spanish society. The major changes made by the Spanish government are excluding undocumented immigrants from free health services or increasing the cost of access to certain medicines, as well as prosthetics and ambulance service.

British researchers pay special attention to Madrid and Catalonia, where “hospitals are being privatized, waiting time has increased, emergency services have been reduced and there are fewer surgical procedures”, news website El Confidencial showcases.

El Mundo is orphaned
The director of El Mundo, Pedro J. Ramirez, has accused the Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy, of forcing his dismissal. As Ramirez explained in his farewell speech to the newspaper’s staff, the chief executive has become the newspaper and himself “on his opponents, perhaps enemies”.

After 33 years as director of one of the biggest Spanish national newspapers, El mundo, which was founded by him, journalist Ignacio Escolar assesses the reasons why Pedro J. has been dismissed: the media company has terrifying losses that any editor can’t afford; secondly, pressures from government spheres — which disagree with the newspaper editorial line — have taken advantage of the economic weakness of El Mundo to depose the director.

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