By Luciana Grosu
20,000 angry Romanians surrounding the parliament building in Bucharest were not enough to stop the government’s new financial plan which is described by the opposition as “social genocide”.
While the protests took part in front of the Romanian Parliament last week, The Legislative House members were voting against the movement of no-confidence against the Government which prepared unpopular new financial plan.
People hoped to put pressure on Parliament to reject the Government’s law proposal which would diminish all salaries and pensions.
Starting from 9.30 in the morning, a human chain was formed round the Parliament, people watching all officials enters the parliament building which is the world’s second biggest office building after the American ministry of defense, The Pentagon.
Beat them with a stick!
“If only I had a stick, to beat them, at least I’d know why I came here”, expresses angrily Paula Marineci, a 60 year-old retired woman, meeting participant.
“We can’t pay electricity, water, food! My pension is only 650ron (153 euros), if they cut it, I’ll have 487 ron (114 euro). Can’t afford anymore to live! “
She looks at her same-age female friend.
“If the new law passes, all we can do is lie down on the floor and close our eyes, waiting to die!”, she cries.
“Next time, we’ll be out on the street with cudgels! “says determined Rodica Stanca, her friend.
“My pension is already small, 360ron (85 euro), I do hope they won’t cut it. I can’t afford to buy medicine. Hope today the government is dismissed.”
Both women think a moment before answering the question: “What if Government doesn’t resign today?”
“Well, in that case I guess we’ll move in front of the Government to ask them to give us food!”
The meeting took place without any major incidents. A group of protesters tried to enter the Parliament courtyard, but were stopped by special force units.
The protesters held black dolls representing the President Traian Băsescu and the Prime Minister Emil Boc and other Government members, they were put on stakes and later burned in front of the people, as a symbolic execution of Romania’s unpopular leaders.
The heat eventually broke people’s will, who protested around 4-5 hours under the hot sun. Four persons were taken to the emergency hospital and other 18 fainted because of sunstroke.
The extreme temperature defeated the last protesters who decided to go home, leaving the Parliament square empty.
The censure movement “Stop the social genocide”, initiated by 120 parliament members belonging to the opposition, was rejected by Parliament, having only 228 “pro-votes” out of the minimum 236 required.
The consequences of the failure of the censure movement are the survival of the present coalition Government and the approval of the crisis plan which stipulates cutting pensions and salaries.
20 years of wait
“Even the old and the sick ones will come to protest on the streets, I am sure”, said Doina Elena Noghin, the founder of the first Ecologist Romanian Party.
“We’ve been waiting for 20 years for Ceausescu to leave, then we waited another 20 years under president Iliescu, now we are simply not left another 20 years to wait until Basescu goes away!”, added Noghin who was the first female candidate at the Presidency of Romania.
“Eventually, we’ll kick them out and make an all-retired people new Government!” the female politician said.
Elder people seem much affected by the idea their lifetime working reward will be taken away from them.
“My aunt died last week”, explains Nicolae Ionescu, a middle-aged state employee man. “She was retired and when she learned her pension will be cut she became angry and made a cerebral congestion”.
“I was out on the street during the Romanian Revolution, risking my life for democracy. But today I am not sure whether I’ll get my salary or not”, says Raluca Baciu., a 50 years-old school nurse.
“Health sector is already condemned in Romania. We are supposed to save people’s lives, but actually when kids come to us, we lack medicine and basic medical toolkits. They don’t give us funds to buy what is needed for doing our job. Next, they also want to cut our salaries?!” the woman shouts angrily.
“Of course, I hope Government will resign today, but I can’t be sure this will happen”, says Dan Echescu, a middle-aged man, university teacher.
“If Government and PM Boc stay, there will be more mass protests, alike the ’89 Revolution”, he added>
“ I don’t think people will resign themselves and accept the situation. Both state employees and retired people will get out on the streets to fight for their rights”, he concludes optimistically.
“Even if the present Government was dismissed, I am not sure this would mean improvement”, speaks Ileana Nita., a middle-aged private sector employee woman. Though not a state employee herself, she came to the meeting to support her friends and relatives.
”A new government would mean delays, probably the International Monetary Fund wouldn’t lend Romania the needed money, so things could turn even worse”, she warns.
“In fact, there are few chances for Government to resign”, says calmly Elena Vascu, a 30 years-old civil servant woman.
“Also, people will not truly react until they won’t feel the new measures. Not until they won’t get their first reduced salaries in July-August.”, she adds, upset that trade union leaders mobilized too few people on the meeting day.
“Romanians are a bit coward. It’s true. They don’t realize it yet”, Elena Vascu concludes with a bitter smile on her face.
“I came here because “comrade Boc” wants to reduce even more our already small salaries. Hope the crisis laws will fail and Government will leave”, says Goace Marin, engineer, representing the Free Trade Union of Craiova University.
“Yet, if the law is approved, we’ll come back to Bucharest to protest as many times as needed.” he adds.
“My message for Romania’s leaders?!” laughs the trade union leader. “I would like to tell them to stop stealing. They stealed enough, and they are the richest Government in the whole world!”
“I hope in autumn there will be more people on the street.” expresses Mihai Butu, the general secretary of the Professors’ Trade Union from Bucharest Polytechnica University. “Today is too hot. In September the weather will be a bit cooler and people will realize how it’s like to live with less money”, says the doctor of engineering, aware the protest meeting could have benefited from a larger participation.
“Eventually, all retired people will get out on the street. We will not let them cut our pensions.