Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Are you tired of hearing about austerity plans?  Not nearly as tired of them as the people who live in countries that are bearing the brunt of these plans.  The working people of Romania are no exception.  They are also no exception to their brothers and sisters in places countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy who have taken to the streets to fight back.  

World Socialist News reports that since the fall of Romania's State Capitalist regime in 1989:

Romania developed into one of the most socially unequal nations in Europe. According to the Gini coefficient, which measures social inequality, Romania ranks alongside Hungary for wealth disparity, and is only exceeded in the region by Poland and Croatia. 

While a tiny elite has profited handsomely, new statistics from Econtext published in January reveal that Romania occupies second place in the European Union in terms of the percentage of people living in poverty—41.4 percent. According to Econtext, this total includes two million pensioners living on less than 100 euros a month. Only neighboring Bulgaria, where 41.6 percent of the population is condemned to poverty, is considered to have lower living standards.

In exchange for a loan of 20 billion euros in 2009, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union are demanding even more austerity measures. The Boc government already cut salaries in the public sector by 25 percent, and pensions by 15 percent in 2010. Now, as a number of major Western companies shift operations out of Romania to set up in even cheaper locations, Boc is proposing fresh cuts to education, culture and health budgets in 2012.
Most of the "protests" which have spread throughout the country have been virtually spontanious.  Some right wing media outlets have called on their supporters to join in.  I have faith the workers will know who are their friends and who are their enemies.

Romanian journalist Ovidu Nahoi quoted in the Christian Science Monitor says:
“The protests aren’t just against one person,Pensions, prices, poverty, injustice, and corruption are all major issues that have been amplified by austerity. People are protesting not just against austerity, but against a political system seen to be corrupt and unjust. They want a new structure of society.”
In Romania, they are talking revolution...and they don't need no stinking vanguard to tell them how to do it.

The following is from CounterFire.

 2 10

‘One solution, another revolution!’ echoed through Romania's streets, as 23 years after Ceausescu, Romanians protested against austerity measures.

Romania protest
Protestors holds a banner reading 'Freedom'
Thousands of protesters waving flags sing the national anthem, ‘Awaken thee, Romanian!’ among burning trash cans and broken windows. No, it’s not historical footage of the 1989 Revolution, but the fourth consecutive day of protests against the Romanian government’s austerity measures.

It all kicked off when Deputy Health Minister Raed Arafat, a widely popular Romanian physician of Palestinian origin, resigned in opposition to a draft healthcare reform bill that represented a partial privatisation of the healthcare system. The protests began on Thursday, with a solidarity demonstration in support of Arafat that took a violent turn. Riot police used tear gas against protesters, who responded by throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails at them. Protesters chanted ‘Down with the thieves! One solution, another revolution!’ and lit candles for heroes of the 1989 rebellion, a series of riots that marked the end of Nicolae Ceausescu’s regime.
Romania riots
On Friday, president Traian Basescu withdrew the healthcare bill, but protests continued and spread across the country, as people jumped at the opportunity to express their anger about various issues, including public sector wage cuts, reduced benefits, increasing youth unemployment, higher value added tax and widespread corruption.

Leaders of the Social Liberal Union, a Romanian political alliance between three opposition parties (the Social Democratic Party, the National Liberal Party and the Conservative Party) condemned the violence, but urged people to take to the streets to overthrow Basescu and the Liberal Democratic Party. Public response to this was, however, extremely negative: a chorus of ‘We hate parties! LDP, SDP, you are all the same to me!’ rang in the centre of Bucharest, Romania’s capital city.

Sunday saw the most violent protests since the 1990s, with thousands demonstrating in 34 counties and increasingly brutal clashes with the riot police. In Bucharest alone, there were 247 arrests and more than 30 injured. The people called for Traian Basescu to resign, 4 years after he became the first president in Romania’s history to be suspended from office and 2 years after his controversial re-election amidst allegations of electoral fraud and general outrage.

The national media blamed ‘football hooligans’ for ‘hijacking’ an otherwise peaceful protest, a move reminiscent of the biased reporting during the 1989 Revolution, but the message is clear and cannot be written off as ‘mindless violence’: Romania is awakening, and joining the global movement against austerity.

No comments: