Catalans fight libel fine with YouTube videos

October 31, 2012
Screenshot: YouTube
(YouTube)

When Catalan magazine editors Marta Sibina and Albano Dante created a YouTube video to publicly shame Catalan health-care adviser Josep Maria Via, they were fined 10,000 euro for defamation.

Not to be shouted down by Spain's libel laws, the two responded by creating yet another video explaining why they were in the right.

In the original video, called the "Greatest theft in the history of Catalonia," the pair decried what they see as "a lack of transparency in Catalonia's public health-care system" and the apparent mismanagement of taxpayer dollars.

(Here's Part 1 ... there's also a Part 2.)

After being fined for libel Oct. 23, they published a follow-up video in which Sibina and Dante say an independent audit confirmed their claims and found "enormous chaos" in the region's hospitals, including 209,000 euro in clandestine payments to a local member of parliament.

They added that the libel fine poses a significant hardship to the couple, who run the Catalan Cafè amb Llet magazine independently.

"10,000 euro is a serious blow to a publication like ours, with only two workers who live exclusively off the publicity from local businesses who support us. We receive no subsistence from the government — no public money whatsoever."

They end with this pledge:

"We want it to be absolutely clear that, far from shutting up, we will continue speaking out against the enormous level of opacity that shrouds our public health-care system."

GlobalVoices reports that on Twitter, the hashtag #MésCafèAmbLlet (#MoreCafèAmbLlet) has been used in defense of the editors, as well as others like  #volemlesdades (#WeWantTheData).

The allegations of corruption come at a sensitive time for the Catalan government, as regional leader Artur Mas has called for an early election Nov. 25 and seeks to gain an absolute majority to fight for Catalan independence.

Update: Catalan speaker Violeta Camarasa tells us in the comments that the original video didn't focus solely on Via, the healthcare adviser. The video pointed to "some suspicious people (mainly politicians with health related companies) that were afterwards investigated by the relevant authorities and published by major media like El País. In the original video, they mentioned Josep Maria Via, but he wasn't among of the most mentioned."

As always, we welcome native speakers' improved translations in the comments or via e-mail.

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Max Fisher | October 31, 2012