The assault of corporations on rural Romania: Our events to raise awareness.

There are stunningly many similarities of mining in Romania and other places. Therefore CATAPA volunteers joined international activist gatherings in Romania earlier this year, and recently a demonstration in Brussels bringing the message “No cyanide mining and no fracking!” from the Romanian people to parliamentarians in Brussels. The event was spearheaded by activist Alexandru Popescu who set a sign by walking 3000km to claim his rights as a European citizen.  EU legislation and resource strategies that favour new extraction directly impact on all member states. The EU commission is lobbied by the mining industry which leads to citizen rights and environmental directives to  be disregarded. Prior consent of local communities (such as at least on paper for some peoples in Latin America) does not exist in the EU.

CATAPA and Climaxi organised in December the public event "Resistance against shale gas and cyanide mining: testimonies from Romania.". There are concessions for mines with outdated and dangerous cyanide technology with poorly designed tailing dams. Two of those have caused environmental disasters in the country in the past; yearly there are several major catastrophes reported worldwide. Next to this, an incredible 70% of Romanian territory is under concession for fracking. Due to their protest against fracking, a village was a military exception zone for half a year. This sounds similar to the ones that are familiar with what happened in Cajamarca.  Resistance also knows similar forms worldwide: after Romanian activist Alexandru marched from Romania to Brussels, Cajamarquiños began to march towards Lima…Because of the newer and more immediate threat that poses fracking, many activists switched their focus from mining to fracking in Romania. After 15 years with the Rosia Montana Campain, the (anti)mining-movements are better organised and Mining Watch Romania tries to monitor  also other concessions. The decision making around concessions are not transparent at all.  Another big task is to inform people in 17 planned sites about the possible dangers, and try to monitor politicians to act lawfully.

In Ghent, Lieve from Climaxi gave the basic technical explanations about hydraulic fracturing. I was happy to finally get more concrete knowledge!  CATAPA explained the most important features of gold mining with cyanide. Mihaela Popescu contrasted the dependence of 45% of Romania‘s people that live in rural areas on natural resources with details about concessions and the movements those. Alexandru shared his experience from his walk to Brussels; he had hoped to get bigger NGOs into the boat but: no. Unfortunately a good example for the structural problem of grassroots movements divided for more formalized organisations.

 In our event in Wageningen (NL) “ Resource fever in Europe: the assault of corporations on rural Romania”, Michiel Kohne, assistant professor  in anthropology of law,  explained how he got involved in research on the Dutch anti-fracking movement: it all seemed very similar to the megaprojects in Indonesia, where he normally sets his focus on. The Noordoostpolder movement is a success story which I am happy to share!

There was an amazingly lively and informed discussion: in my mind I could tick all points that we would raise in a larger CATAPA presentation. One reaction from a girl on the event: “ People from all over the world, beyond European boundaries, from Peru and from organizations in Latin America joined in with the same passion and with similar stories... it's more than fracking, it's about being heard and about bringing the truth to light.” There is also an article in her blog. We are happy to continue collaboration with OtherWise for the Academic Week 2015!

In our project Generation Transition the Romanian case has a place in a project with Ecocampus: Professors expressed the need to a wikced problem close to home, in order to make their students understand the happenings overseas. It would be great if we can contribute to making students more critical by working on mining problems!

A CATAPA volunteer will further follow up on the European BANG! Ban Cyanide-campaign which always welcomes new collaborators!