On Saturday, July 24, over 100 people gathered at President’s Way Lawn in Balboa Park to take a stand in support of Medicare for All and healthcare as a human right. M4A demonstrations took place in many other cities as well. The local march was organized by a coalition which included the Party for Socialism and Liberation San Diego, San Diego Democratic Socialists of America, the Green Party of San Diego, San Diego Socialist Alternative, Peace and Freedom San Diego and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) San Diego.
Before attendees began their 2.5 mile march through Balboa Park to the front steps of San Diego City College, organizer Tori Barron of PSL highlighted the three demands of the action: for Congress to pass improved and expanded Medicare for All immediately; for healthcare to be recognized as a human right; and, for the federal budget to prioritize healthcare first, including an elimination of medical debt. A Medicare for All system would nationalize the U.S. health insurance industry.
About half of U.S. adults say that they or a family member put off or skipped some sort of medical or dental care in the past year because of the cost, while one in eight of those adults said their medical condition worsened as a result of needing to put off care. As a healthcare worker at Planned Parenthood, Barron has seen firsthand how this country’s healthcare system is “not working in our communities, it’s not working in our clinics and hospitals, it’s not working for our healthcare workers.”
After initial speakers, the group marched through the park to Bea Evenson Fountain, with Direct Action Drumline supplying the crowd with energy and rhythm in chants of “Fight, fight, fight! Healthcare is a human right!” and “Give the people what they need, Medicare guaranteed!”
As the group paused at the fountain, attendees heard from long-time community organizer Jose Cortes of PSL, who is also a 2022 Peace and Freedom Party candidate for Congress in East County San Diego. Cortes reminded attendees that they had all gathered to unite on the idea that healthcare is a human right, telling the crowd, “Human dignity is something that can and should be provided to every person in this country, not just those that can afford it or those that participate in a system that exploits and grinds people up like sausage for profit.”
Cortes also said it is an outright lie that healthcare for all is too expensive: “As working class people that are struggling for our very existence, our very survival–the survival of our children, of our parents, of our siblings—we need to band together to demand Medicare for All!”
After Cortes’ speech, the group continued around the Fleet Science Center, marching onto Park Boulevard towards San Diego City College, where they paused again to listen to a speech from Marco Amaral. Amaral, who identifies as an internationalist, is a candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction and a PhD student in social justice education.“The struggle for a dignified and just education system must be tied and connected to the struggle for a just and dignified healthcare system,” Amaral said to the crowd. “Teachers, maestras y maestros, if we believe in fighting for the academic and holistic success of our students, then we must unite in the collective struggle to achieve Medicare for All!”
Following Amaral’s speech, demonstrators began the last leg of the march, back to the starting point on President’s Way Lawn. Attendees marched to Direct Action’s drums as well as chants of “M4A! Make the rich pay!” and “Health insurance is a right! If we don’t get it, we will fight!” The struggle for the right to free, universal healthcare will continue, but let the people’s immediate demand be heard: Medicare for All, nothing less!