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Facultad de Derecho
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Recortes de Prensa

Together We Can!

Round Town News, 15 | 10 | 2009 - Noticia

President Barack Obama’s election campaign slogan was used with gusto last week at the PUMA 22 public meeting to gain support for their campaign to fight the Valencian Health Authority’s plans to introduce charges for healthcare to pre-retirees

The meeting, which took place at the New Asturias Restaurant in Punta Prima, was standing room only as over 220 people packed into the upstairs meeting room. The meeting of the non-profit making and non political PUMA 22 pressure group was hosted by group vocals Bill Bridges and Norah Bond, as well as group founding member Doctor Roman Jimenez Gil, whose very interesting opinions on the Swine Flu pandemic were highlighted in last week’s Round Town News. Bill thanked all the people who attended and told them about the pressure group and its aims. He then said: “Well, they have finally done it. Free healthcare for early retirees is now almost a thing of the past.” He added: “We have made our viewpoint on this very clear. We feel that this decision is morally wrong and contrary to the ethos of the European Union. They used the carrot of free healthcare to entice us to this region. We have contributed enormously to both the local and regional economies by purchasing property here and we continue to contribute by the way of taxes to the local and regional authorities, and to the success of local and regional businesses.”

Waste of Time

He continued: “We all know that Orihuela does as little as possible with our taxes here on the coast, and now the regional government has dealt, what for many people, will be a heavy, if not fatal, financial blow.” The PUMA 22 pressure group has contacted the Valencian authorities and Downing Street and failed to get adequate responses from either of them. Of Downing Street’s response, Bill said: “They demonstrated exactly just how out of touch they really are. Their sole advice was for us to take out private medical insurance.” Bill also contacted many MPs and MEPs and none of them could or would help. According to Bill, MEP Nigel Farage told him that seeking help from Europe was a complete waste of time, space and money as they have no powers to change anything. Bill concluded: “So, this is where we are now. We have to pay up or make our own arrangements. To put it into perspective, early retirees can expect to pay 90 euros per month for each person and those who are of retirement age and not in receipt of a UK state pension, 110 euros per month. I believe that it is essential that we continue to fight this. If we don’t, the question must be where will the next cuts or prunings be made?”

Positive Frame of Mind

Dr Roman then took to the stage and encouraged the 200 plus audience to stand and say: “Together we can!” For a moment, RTN thought that we had been transported across the Atlantic to an Obama election rally! Nevertheless, the slogan chanting and his following address to the audience, in which he told them that he had never seen people treated as badly as expats are here in Valencia, seemed to get the message across and put everyone in a positive frame of mind. He said: “When I returned from the UK, I was shocked to see British expats being treated like second class citizens.” He added: “We must work together, if not nothing will change. If 5000 British expats stand up and be counted, the authorities will listen. They will have to.” He concluded: “Power in numbers is the answer. If you do nothing, nothing will change.” Members of the audience who wanted to be involved, which in actual fact was the majority, were then encouraged to get together into small groups to come up with ideas on how to tackle the problem and how to promote their campaign. The meeting resulted in several plans of action including another petition and a leaflet drop. The plans and proposals decided at the meeting can be viewed at the PUMA website which is www.puma22.org, as can all the information about the pressure group, including how to join.

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