The City of Revolution Now Must Build a New Society
In December, Timisoara, a Romanian city of 350,000 on the Hungarian border, ignited the revolt against dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. But the changes here have really only begun.
LUMINITA BOTOC was killed on Dec. 17, 1989. She was 13 years old. Her picture hangs among wreaths, flowers, and burning candles that fill the square between the cathedral and the opera house here in the cradle of the Romanian revolution. The dramatic days of December last year are still present in this city of 350,000 people. Buildings full of bullet holes and graffiti - condemning the securitate, communism, and Ceausescu while proclaiming that the ``army is with us'' - are everywhere. Every day, at the square in front of the opera where Puccini's ``Tosca'' is playing, men gather to talk. They are no longer discussing soccer, but politics - late into the night.Skip to next paragraph
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There is pride here of Timisoara's role in the overthrow of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. They tell the story time and again of how Timisoara fought alone for a week before the capital, Bucharest, woke up and joined the revolution. People are aware of the many unanswered questions surrounding the dramatic days of December. They still don't know how many were killed - 110 is a common figure. Others say hundreds more. The hope is that the present trial of 21 high officials from the Ceausescu regime will bring some answers.
Alexandru Roscoban, a 60-year-old lawyer and a political prisoner for seven years, is the chairman of the council of national unity, which runs the city and the region from the old Communist Party headquarters. Mr. Roscoban was elected on Jan. 28 by the council members, among them representatives from 13 political parties.
``I hope we can do something for our people in a short time,'' he says. ``We are preparing for the elections and trying to rebuild the whole society. It's not so easy. People are still afraid.
``The number of killed in December is not exactly known. And we don't know who shot them. It's the old court of the former regime conducting the investigation. But the securitate was everywhere, and it was so organized. The process of purification is very difficult.''
Corneliu Vaida is a 28-year-old spokesman for the council. He is an auto mechanic, but when the fighting broke out he asked the army for a gun and joined the revolution. He is wary of the situation.
``Politics does not mean progress,'' he says. ``People talk, but no one wants to work. There is too much talk now. We need to stabilize the political structures and start to work. We can't wait for someone else to do it for us.
``But we don't know how to use our new liberty. We don't know what democracy and liberty mean. It is misunderstood by people. They want immediate changes, but that's impossible.''
HANS VASTAG is a journalist at the city's German-language newspaper, Neue Banater Zeitung. He is, at last, allowed to be a real journalist, and he relishes the opportunity.
``But the situation is uncertain,'' he says. ``No one knows what will happen. It's not simple. The members of the German minority are still leaving, and almost no one returns.''
Dan Amorei is a 25-year-old computer science student, who has joined the Liberal Party. He has built his own antenna to be able to watch cable television from nearby Yugoslavia. He has applied for a license to start the first free radio station in Romania, but it looks like it will be a long wait.