The PP’s crusade against the Catalan language continues. This Monday the autonomous government of the Balearic Islands has approved a plan of urgent measures to attract and retain health professionals, with the aim of guaranteeing health care and reducing waiting lists. In addition, it also removes the requisite of knowledge of the Catalan language in order to work in public health in the Balearic Islands. This was confirmed in a press conference by the Balearic health minister, Manuela García, who stated that the aim of the change was to attract and retain healthcare professionals.
In the past, some of those who aspired to join the Balearic public health system had criticized the fact that an ability to communicate in Catalan was required, as in other territories. These complaints led to controversy and became a battleground for the right-wing People’s Party (PP) and their far-right allies Vox. The new PP government, invested thanks to the abstention of Vox, now removes knowledge of Catalan as a requirement to work in public health under the banner of increasing staff retention and attracting more health professionals. “We are aware that there is no problem with the doctor-patient relationship and the use of Catalan in consultations will be encouraged”, García said a few weeks ago, although the decision, apparently contradicting the policy which the minister affirmed then, is that the Catalan language will not be required to work as a health worker in the Balearic public health system.
The office to “guarantee linguistic freedom”, in the hands of Vox
In fact, the future of the Catalan language in the Balearic Islands is in the hands of the extreme right. Vox will direct the Balearic Islands’ new Office of Guarantees of Linguistic Freedom, which was one of the conditions imposed by the far-right party in its pact with the PP to invest Marga Prohens as new president of the Mediterranean island group’s government.
It is estimated that at the end of summer, control of this office will be handed to the extreme right, as announced a few weeks ago by the government’s deputy spokesperson and minister for public administration, Antònia Maria Estarellas. “In the investiture agreement with Vox, it is stated that an office will be set up to guarantee the freedom of citizens to use the two co-official languages”, Estarellas said.
The creation of this new office is one of the key points that Vox insisted on when agreeing to allow the investiture of Prohens through their abstention, and the institution will lead to the disappearance of the existing centre, known as the Office for the Defence of Linguistic Rights, which in Vox’s opinion only existed for “the exclusive protection of Catalan, excluding Spanish”. As asserted by the text signed by the PP and Vox, the new office aims to defend the freedom of use of languages and of language choice and to “promote the protection of both Spanish and Catalan and the linguistic modalities of the different islands”.
For the moment, however, with the new government’s decision to drop the requirement for health professionals to have knowledge of Catalan, it will be difficult for the new Office to defend the rights of health system users wishing to speak Catalan.
Produced in association with El Nacional En