All posts by Alexandra Roman

Alexandra has been actively involved in opposing open-pit mining in Roșia Montană for many years. She also works as a translator.

This used to be my playground…

By Alexandra Roman

A place up in the mountains. Narrow streets. Old houses. People carrying their lives like they’ve been here since forever and will still be here for a long while. Will they..??

If you take a closer look, you notice that most of the houses seem lifeless. No move around them, although it’s spring and everybody should be busy outside or inside the house, trying to chase away the last signs of winter. But the people who should be there are gone now, and the houses are abandoned. It’s like they are waiting to collapse under the noise of heavy machines and the smell of dynamite.

Ro?ia Montan? is going in two different directions: one side wants to carry on just like until now, while the other side would turn its back to all that this mining town has ever represented, for a handful of money. The gold is out of the question; the people will only see it in the colorful pictures of the mining company. The unrest is caused by the thin limit between these two directions. Each side has its own arguments and the conviction that the truth is in their hands. The truth is that the purpose is basically the same: well-being. It’s just that the meaning of this “well-being” is very different.

For some people, well-being means a quiet place, where they can breathe a clean air and watch their children grow up healthy, running up and down the hills. But for others, the well-being is the reward of a monstrous excavation of several mountains to get the gold which has been anyhow extracted in this place for thousands of years, but without displacing the inhabitants and destroying the environment. Until recently, people and nature were one; there was no need to destroy one of them, so that the other could survive. Now, all of a sudden, this doesn’t work anymore; something must be sacrificed. Some people call this “progress”.

To illustrate how this kind of “progress” leaves deep wounds on the environment, but especially in the hearts of the people, I will tell you a short story:

Not far away from Ro?ia Montan?, just over a couple of hills, where you can now see a huge lake of blood-colored sterile waste, it was the place where my grandparents and my father were born and grew up. The village of Geam?na is now almost gone; the lake is growing continuously, as a result of the copper mining in Ro?ia Poieni, swallowing trees and houses, and my grandparents’ house has long been under the surface of the poisonous lake. I wonder what they would say if they could see how this place, which was their home, now looks like. If they would understand that all was done for a „noble” purpose; who cares about some houses, the cemetery, the church, which are all covered now by the poison? A single glance over a once beautiful and lively valley it’s enough to give you goose bumps.

Do we really want to see this in Ro?ia Montan? as well? The problem is that here it would be a lot bigger and much more poisonous. The question is: what for? Or better yet, for whom? In any case, not for those who are still living in Ro?ia Montan? or for their children, but for a few foreigners who haven’t seen Ro?ia Montan? except on scale models.

As for those who were born in Ro?ia Montan?, if they ever come here again, they would ask themselves where are the places where they grew up, their parents’ house, the streets they used to walk, the trees that offered them their shade. Well, they won’t find any of these, but instead, an enormous pit will make them think: “This used to be my playground…”