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.