Brasov Mayor Recalls Revolution in Romania
Transition toward democracy has been rapid, but reformers face food shortages and disappointed hopes of workers
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``On Jan. 12 and 13, the second revolution began here. There were new demonstrations, and on the second day the Salvation Front at the university met with 37 enterprises from the region. We formulated an eight-point platform, demanding democratic elections of the people who were to run the city. The general was dismissed, and others resigned.Skip to next paragraph
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``On Jan. 19, we met with 83 enterprises and suggested a new council of unity for the city, and on Jan. 23, at a big meeting with every factory and institution represented, the first council of unity in Romania was elected democratically, with secret ballots. Timisoara did the same a week later.
``On Feb. 5, the new council with 59 members received representatives from the other political parties and elected me mayor.
``There are five people in prison, who will be tried for what they did during the Ceausescu years. One of them is the former head of the Communist Party in Brasov.
``Now we have to rebuild our social life, our economy. We have a food shortage, so we've had to ask other regions for help. Ceausescu was an idiot, who destroyed the economy and the agriculture and blocked our mentality. We have no idea what democracy is. Ceausescu destroyed the conscience of the people. There is a crisis of conscience in Romania.
``Now, we have to give a new direction to the development in Brasov. ... We need courage to do things, to do something unusual.''
Crisbasan has lots of ideas. On his initiative, Brasov has a new, independent television station, giving the city its first-ever local news program. It is run by a group of young volunteers down the hall from the mayor's office. It still only broadcasts two hours a week, but it's a start. A new radio station is also to follow.
But for the workers at the Red Flag truck factory in the outskirts of Brasov, the revolutionary spontaneity somehow does not seem to be enough. They want concrete improvement in their daily working lives.
``Nothing has changed in the plant. We're sick of the lies and the promises, promises,'' say Maria Ghita and Zaharia Ibolia, two young women who have worked at the factory for six and five years respectively.
They argue vehemently with the technical director, Stefan Munteanu, when he happens to come by their workplace. They hope for and expect so much more, they say, a better standard of living, higher pay, better work conditions and tools. ``Look at these gloves,'' Ms. Ibolia says, showing a pair of badly torn gloves.
Now, they want the plant to keep its promise to introduce the five-day week. They plan to have free elections among the plant's 20,000 employees, who produce 14,000 trucks a year. And for the first time, they can choose between two different unions.
``I will leave if there are no changes here,'' insists Ibolia with great emphasis. ``We hope for democracy - we know what we want.''
Crisbasan is aware of the impatience in the city for quick results. He can only go so fast, he says. There is so much to do.
But in the long run, he hopes Brasov, with its ethnic mix of Romanians, Germans, and Hungarians, its beautiful houses and old churches, its mountains for skiing and hiking, can become the premier tourist center of Romania. Before that can happen, the city needs new roads, better train service, maybe an airport in the vicinity, and new hotels.