- Posted October 5, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Roşia Montană, the drop that spilled the cup: a frenzied Romanian Autumn
The 2013 protests in Romania started on September the 1st, following the Romanian government’s approval of a special law that would allow the Canadian corporation Gabriel Resources to conduct expropriations in the Apuseni Mountains, Roşia Montană, as part of a highly controversial gold mining project that would destroy four mountains and place a huge cyanide lake in one of the country’s most beautiful areas. In return, the Romanian state would receive a royalty fee of only 6%.
At first, the overwhelming majority of the Romanian media was either suspiciously silent about the protests, or blatantly favorable to the cyanide project, in spite of the fact that thousands of people were out on the streets asking for the project to be withdrawn. Peaceful protesters have then been called anything from "hipsters," to "extremists," to "eco-terrorists." The numbers of the protesters has been constantly underestimated by most of the Romanian TV channels, newspapers and news websites. Government and opposition parties alike seem to have formed a cartel, as they have also supported the project and had various attempts to discredit the protesters. However, social networks as well as various blogs have played a crucial role in disseminating useful information not only about the noxious effects of the mining project, but also about the protests as a whole. As a result, Romania’s capital city has finally been after many years, for weekends in a row, the host of impressive manifestations. People marched on the streets chanting various slogans such as "Roşia! Roşia! the Revolution is coming!"
Romanian post-communist politics has been generally marked by high levels of corruptions. Yet the levels of political culture have been increasing during the last 23 years, and many Romanians today have a good understanding of the social-political realities in their country. The Roşia Montană project just may be the drop that spilled the cup of their increasing frustration with several consequent arrogant, corrupt and abusive governments, and with a mass media that appears to be for the most part dishonest and subjugated to various political interests.
With the protesters asking among other things for the project’s withdrawal, as well as for a ban on cyanide mining in Romania, the battle seems to be far from over. More and more Romanian citizens are confronting the massive alliance formed by Gabriel Resources, major political parties, and most of the media. This is a rather unique opportunity for a new generation of Romanians to win an enormous symbolic battle, as well as to finally redefine the entire social contract with the state in their favor.