Category Archives: Opinions and Essays

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Romania Is Ready. Are We?

Romania is ready to rise and Romanians everywhere are ready to make it happen. They are ready now. Are we?

I have seen how people open their eyes, raise their heads and allow their spirit to shine whenever they are inspired, whenever they have role models around them. People are too often used to a sluggish rhythm, negative beliefs and a lack of hope even though, in most of their hearts, there is a sparkle; one not seen from the outside through their lives and actions. It is there, and it has always been there, waiting to be lit up and guided, exploding in a fire of love and right action.

People are ready. They just need guidance. They need inspiration. They need role models.

My mother is in her 50s; she lived half of her life under communism and half of her life in a fake democracy when things became worse and worse. But she never stopped hoping, she never gave up her dreams. Her visions go against what is happening around her, against the direction her community is going – toward self-destruction through a lack of right action.

People are ready, people are thirsty for a better life. But they need to be guided because they do not know that there truly is a different way; they do not have the courage to believe that they can escape from their fears.

We need more and more spiritual people getting involved in their communities. People need pure leaders, souls ready to serve. These communities, these villages and cities, this nation – most of it is led by ignorance, by people that are unbelievably narrow minded, by people who cannot see beyond their own interests, beyond their own egos, beyond their own lives. Such people cannot see the needs of the present; therefore, they have no vision of the future. They can only “lead” through intimidation, blackmail and through exploiting a community’s fear and weakness. Therefore, these communities are “encouraged” to stay small, to keep their heads down, to be scared, to continue to be the prisoners of their own fears.

But we can and must do something about that! We must show the people how free they are and how high they can fly if only they learn the greatness of their own freedom.

Everyone who can see beyond the realm of fear has a duty to share their knowledge and to share the light that exists all around us. We are not yet masters and not yet saints but we do believe in freedom, truth and love; our duty is to share it as much as we can.

The people are ready.

Are we?

Rosia Montana: Revolution

The Art of Revolution: Part I

Revolution is a provocative word.

Like a flag carried over the battlefield, it raises images of war and bloodshed, of Lady Liberty leading the common people against the brutal chains of tyranny. Yet, all too often, revolution does not mean an end to tyranny; only a change in tyrants.

There exists another kind of revolution, one that does not create an opportunity for opportunists. It’s a revolution of the spirit and it takes place within ourselves. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.”

Derived from the Latin verb revolvere, the word revolution has been evolving for centuries. Though the astronomer Copernicus created a revolution of thought when he published On the Revolutions (De revolutionibus orbium coelestium) to describe the movement of planets in our heliocentric solar system, it was much later that astrologers began using revolution to mean a significant “turning” of events, an upheaval of change, especially in regards to the affairs of the king. James II of England must have realized this firsthand during the Glorious Revolution of 1688 when he was overthrown by English parliamentarians in favor of William and Mary.

In modern times, revolution has offered the promise of something radically new and, presumably, better. This was the case in December 1989, when Romanians took to the streets in Timosoara to voice their anger and frustration over years of oppressive rule by Nicolae Ceaușescu. Regarded as one of the most brutal rulers in Communist Europe, Ceaușescu was ultimately overthrown and executed.

…Romanians were crazed with happiness. People who never met each other before hugged each other in the streets – convinced that tomorrow things would look different. Then came the many disappointments.
~ Octavian Paler

What, then, of Romania and the Romanian people? Did their revolution bring something “radically new” to Romania; an end to tyranny and the birth of “government by the people”?

In a way, yes. Communist directives fell, replaced by democratic institutions and ideals. Gone was the Romanian police state. A new era of self-government was being ushered in; or so it seemed.

To many, it was only the face of tyranny that had changed. They saw the same players from Ceaușescu’s regime holding official government positions, including President Ion Iliescu. This came to a head in June 1990 when President Iliescu transported over 10,000 miners to Bucharest to restore order against protesting university students and intellectuals. Upset over the hurried election of President Iliescu, the protestors condemned the new government’s failure to uphold the Proclamation of Timisoara which decreed that no former Communist Party members could hold office. Dozens died and the world watched in shocked disbelief as miners used wooden clubs, rubber hoses and iron bars on protesters and innocent civilians.

Did the protesters have cause for concern? Of all the Eastern Bloc countries that witnessed the fall of communism within their borders, only Bulgaria and Romania saw members of the old regime back in power. The purpose of the Proclamation of Timisoara was to give the country a clean foundation upon which to build a new government, free from politicians who had supported a corrupt communist political system. How could ex-party officials be trusted to form a democratic government when they, themselves, had taken part in the systematic, often brutal, oppression of the Romanian people?

Though violent events like those in 1990 have been rare, a similar mistrust in government is fueling the current crisis at Rosia Montana. A UNESCO-worthy heritage site, Rosia Montana galvanized the opposition into action when Frank Timis, a Romanian-born Australian immigrant and founder of Gabriel Resources, set his sights on the area as the perfect location for Europe’s largest open-pit gold mine. With 2000 years of natural and cultural heritage threatened, angry citizens of Rosia Montana banded together to form opposition groups.

As resistance grew, so did the resolve of the mining company – and allegations of misconduct. Desperate to show its shareholders progress, the mining company was accused of resorting to tactics all-too-familiar to a nation demoralized under 40 years of communist rule; threats, buy-offs, bribes, misinformation and pseudo-science. These tactics could only be possible under a government unable, or unwilling, to enforce democratic law. Indeed, it was becoming clear the company had accomplices at every level of government.

From the beginning, Gabriel Resources, and its Romanian subsidiary, Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, has been embroiled in controversy. In 1997, in an agreement with the Romanian government that has many more questions than answers, Frank Timis, at the time a small business owner and trained auto mechanic, somehow was able to secure the lease of not only Romania’s but Europe’s largest goldfields. Despite repeated cries to the contrary, the contract between Gabriel Resources and the Romanian government has remained sealed, hidden away from public review.

In 2000, Virgil Nicolae Narita was elected Rosia Montana’s mayor in part by speaking out against the proposed project and its relocation of the village. Not long after taking office, however, he helped pass a local resolution designating the area a mono-industrial mining zone – a move that effectively stopped any other investments from entering into the impoverished local economy.

Some of the villagers accuse him of betrayal–running for office on a ticket opposing the relocation, while now pursuing a more diplomatic line. ~ LA Times

Mr. Narita’s reasons for a turnabout took on more clarity after he was forced from office in 2006 when it was discovered that he and his family were making huge profits from mining company projects that benefited his own construction company; a clear conflict of interest.

Similarly, opponents of the mining project often find closed doors to getting  answers. Dr. Horia Ciugudean, one of Romania’s most renown archaeologists and a staunch opponent to the mining project, has been repeatedly denied the necessary permits to properly survey the proposed mining land by Alba County officials. Not surprisingly, Alba County is a beneficiary of Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, and has repeatedly denied Dr. Ciugudean the necessary archeological permits even though only 1% of the project’s land has been surveyed according to accepted scientific standards

For a country still recovering from a recent history of oppression and government corruption, mistrust of politicians and government runs deep. What is happening to Rosia Montana only adds to this mistrust. Its story has been simmering in the minds of Romanians, waiting for a galvanizing moment that would drive the people to decisive, cohesive action.

That moment came in September 2013.

Next Week: The Art of Revolution: Part II

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…”

We Won’t Surrender!

Rosia Montana Cultural Foundation

Our Foundation has emerged as a thrill of pride against those who argued that the fate of Rosia Montana was sealed. Indeed, what is given to us to hear all day by supporters of the mining project? They say that the only source of wealth of the inhabitants is the mining. They speak of the disappearance of four mountains and the disposing of the gold within a few years as if we will have no children and grandchildren; instead, they leave to our children a cyanide lake, held, hopefully, by a dam. They need this in order to convince the people that this is what their happiness depends upon and to convince the leaders of Romania that the destruction of the patrimony should be supported by the ones that are paid from our money; the ones who are supposed to defend it. They forget that they don’t deal with a nation of servants.

There were some Mo?i who sold Horia and Avram Iancu, but not all are so. Defending your house and yard, your church and your dead is the ultimate proof of dignity, and nowadays it is a sign that we understand why we were accepted in Europe and what is our role among the free nations. The Democracy and the rule of law cannot exist only in Bucharest or Cluj and not in the last hamlet, too. When a community tries to defend itself against greed, ignorance and lawlessness, the intellectuals are the first ones that should jump in defense. Those who do not do this and, moreover, who allow themselves to be bought, they deserve the contempt of us and of history.

It’s not enough to save Rosia Montana from corporate greed and corrupt politicians. We are not against mining; we are against the destruction of the historical patrimony and of nature. We are convinced that the future of Rosia Montana consists of her past. Trajan brought to Rosia Montana an entire population of miners from the Roman empire, which built settlements and dug tens of kilometers of galleries unique in the world as symbols of perfection and beauty. It is a contribution of Rosia Montana, a contribution of Romania to the universal civilization. No one is allowed to destroy them, even the locals, because Rosia Montana’s heritage does not belong only to them.

The Rosia Montana Cultural Foundation seeks to:

- support the enrollment of Rosia Montana in UNESCO as a world heritage site.

- help Rosia Montana and surrounding areas to become a place of European importance for intellectual tourism.

- raise awareness of the unique architecture, customs, crafts, stories and cuisine of the people of Rosia Montana.

- urge the Romanian state to support their citizens for the benefit of Romania, not for that of foreign corporations.

- wants the wealth of the locals to be sustainable and based upon honesty and self-respect.

We will never surrender.