If my memory isn't playing any trick on me, this Sunday will mark five weeks since the beginning of the protests, held in the entire Romania, against the mining exploitation at Rosia Montana. I wrote less and protested a bit more. In times like these, the place to be, even more than behind the desk and writing articles about an injustice about to happen, is the street, protesting loud and clear against the injustice in question.
Unlike to many others, the amplitude of the protests - by far the most important in Romania since 1991 - was not - and is not - a surprise to me. Temperature in Romanian society has reached a climax. Most will probably disagree with me, but that happened for the first time in the winter of 2011 (with certain help from a important part of the media), and again this September (this time with no help at all). And if the demands of the people on the streets will not be met, this will certainly happen again. It is only a matter of time. And I'm not speaking about a long time, as a difficult winter awaits us just around the corner.
My bet is that politicians, no matter their political colour, will try to berry their heads in the sand as long as necessary, in order to promote as soon as possible the law allowing the exploitation at Rosia Montana, and thus ignore the tens of thousands of Romanians expressing their opposition in the street. The explanation for that is very simple: most of our parliamentary parties count on funding from RMGC in the next elections: presidential in 2014 and parliamentary in 2016. They also know that middle class protesting now is a difficult client when it comes to voting, so politicians imagine that they will be able to buy votes - like they did so far - by raising pensions or salaries.
I write this article in order to try to understand what will happen next. My scenario is this: people will go on rising on the streets against the project, but the parliament (and the government) will approve the law. Afterwards, everything will explode. We will not talk about blocking deputies and senators on the streets of Alba, like it happened a week ago, we will talk, probably, about people manifesting in the tens of thousands in front of the infamous Parliament Palace.
In my view, the key of the situation is here: today, it is very difficult to register a political party in Romania. It takes 25,000 signatures gathered in 20 counties (if my memories do not play me tricks) to do that. In a country like Romania, it is extremely harsh to meet this demand, and the result is that most citizens are not represented by the main political parties. This is a main deficiency of the political system. Will the protesters understand that the key demand is to modify this law, and ask for more democratic representation?
To be honest, and against my desire, I doubt it.
Nevertheless, the effort is splendid. And it is giving me hope.
This is the fifth day of the protests.
Mostly young people are gathering again today, in University Square, to rally against the decision of the government to sustain the exploitation at Rosia Montana.
After the initial protests on Sunday mainstream media had to react and tried to minimize the protests and their meaning, and even tried to change the public agenda. Those who have chosen the uncomfortable way of protesting into the streets were accused of being nothing more than a bunch of dreamers, hipsters, socialists and anti-capitalists. Generally, these accusations were made by that part of the press previously involved in agreements with RGMC.
In fact, protests at Piata Universitatii have nothing to do with the right or the left. People are equally dissatisfied with both, to be honest. The protests have a lot to do, for a change, with the way governments (politicians) understand how to govern Romania. They have a lot to do with the huge distance between politicians and citizens. They have everything to do with what is generically called BAD GOVERNMENT, lack of legitimacy, lack of dialogue between the power and the rest, lack of real democracy.
Again, these protests are not against (foreign) corporations and capitalism. All the people I know, people who are involved in these protests, generally work in a foreign corporation, have better education than most of their compatriots, have more money, travel more and mostly vote with the right wing - when they do vote. They are not nationalist, they are only patriots. Personally, I have two jobs (one in a foreign corporation), I travel abroad and I vote with the right, when I do. These protests are against such a situation when a certain government tries to impose a law dedicated to a single company, a law which can be described in a few words as a result of the lobby of the company in question. What has this to do with (opposition to) real capitalism ?
If I decided to get out and protest, not only to observe, it was because this is a clear situation of abuse. It is a clear situation of aggression against individual property. It is also a very, very clear situation of a extremely bad deal made by a government pretending to represent me, and in the top of that, eventually it is I who would have to support the costs for many years to come, along with my compatriots, not the members of this government. Guess what ? I don't want to, not anymore.
PS. I am sure there are plenty of bad deals already made, in mining as well as other fields. These protests represent a landmark : it is with the dismissal of Raed Arafat last year or the law on Rosia Montana this year that people show all of this is enough. Such deals made by those who temporarily govern the country will no longer be accepted by the society.
I just got home after a few hours of protesting.
Some 5,000 people gathered today in University Square to protest against the recent decision of the Romanian government to start the exploitation of the Rosia Montana gold mines. Much more than the people protesting last year in January. Other thousands gathered in other cities of Romania and abroad : Cluj, Timisoara, Brasov, Iasi, Alba Iulia, Targu Mures, Bruxelles, Amsterdam, Oslo.
Rosia Montana is a small village in Alba county, in Transylvania, and studies show that a few hundreds of tons of gold and about 1500 tons of silver could be extracted out of the place. The state wants to allow a Canadian corporation, RGMC (Rosia Montana Gold Corporation) to exploit the gold in Rosia Montana, using cyanide. Promises are that, in order to prepare the exploitation, 1,200 jobs will be created for a period of about 2 years, and 600 jobs for about 20 years, and that the state will get about 200 million euros.
Problems occur, though, if we take a look at the conditions of the exploitation:
A. A site full of history will be destroyed. Romans and Dacians were digging for gold there 2 millennia ago.
B. The money obtained by the state, used as a pretext by the government in order to promote the project, could be easily obtained from other sources, for instance European funds. Each year Romania could access funds more important than the entire value of the Rosia Montana project.
C. Finally, ecological costs: 4 mountains tops destroyed, 3 villages wiped out, a lot of cyanide in the waters, pollution.
A few words about the law the government is trying to promote: it actually obliges all the institutions to allow the exploitation, even if existing laws are respected or not. RGMC can expropriate, in the name of the Romanian state, all lands it could need, thus meaning that a company with foreign capital can expropriate whoever it wants in the region.
I must say as well that this corporation got the support of the entire Romanian political class, of the mainstream media, and also tries to influence the public opinion, forums, sites, using trolls. In short, a very aggressive strategy.
What I saw tonight:
About 5,000 people, occasionally more, young, well organized, motivated and determined. There was no press at all. Of course there were few reporters and occasional TV crews, but it was clear to me that this protest was boycotted by the press. Easy to explain: there is no politics-free press in Romania. The former government explicitly supported the project, the current government also supports the project and tries to ignore these protests. I cannot forget the recent days when the wife of Mr. Ponta, actual head of government, threatened to chain herself if the project would be launched by the former government. Mr. Ponta himself, after announcing the law as Prime Minister, told that, as a deputy, he will vote AGAINST the law he announced himself. I wonder what is the position of Mr. Ponta, chief of the Socialist-Democrat Party...
In short, no press presented at all a protest were THOUSANDS were present.
The best moment at the Artmania festival, this year, was the beginning of the final act of the festival, when the legendary Lacrymosa held their act during a storm with heavy rain and violent thunders. A few hundreds of fans assisted on that Saturday night to what has been, in my perception, perhaps the most truthful rock concert I ever listened to.
It's hard to beat the atmosphere of a concert with special effects provided by nature itself.
Kindle your mind.