Today is the 24th anniversary of the Romanian Revolution beggining. Everything started in Timişoara, very close to our city, Arad; and soon spread throughout the country. It ultimately resulted in the violent overthrow and execution of longtime President of Romania Nicolae Ceauşescu, and the end of the Socialist Republic of Romania. Romania was under a hard authoritarian regime headed by Ceauşescu for more than 24 years.
In the first years, the Ceauşescu´s government is constructed based on repression, austerity, and grandiloquent investment a systematic abuse of the laws. All of this balanced with well proportioned odds at truculent nationalism, and feeding an open challenge to the Soviet Union. In parallel, Romania enjoys a more favorable economic situation, given the growing demand for food that the country is able to provide. Rural areas have abundant cultivable space and an equally nurtured human resources to work with.
The leader becomes extremely popular, but never leaves aside the prerogatives of his secret agenda: Party infiltration continues stoking in every social sphere, while giving way to what would become the most feared secret police of the Eastern bloc, the Securitate. This context presents him with the opportunity to paint his figure with the brush of the cult of personality. Official propaganda (focused exclusively on his desires) refers to him with high sounding epithets: ‘‘The Great Conductor,” ”The Genius of the Carpathians” and ”The Danube of Thought.” And the structures fall under his complete dominance: the armed forces the intelligence services, police, media and economic activity in all its dimensions.
After his visit to North Korea and China, Ceauşescu wants to transform Romania into an industrial power. For this purpose, initially proposes two major objectives: to increase the birth rate in the country and pay all external debt of Romania. He gets the first goal but the austerity programs to pay the external debt sorted by Ceauşescu, in early 1980, will pass the bill to the quality of life of the population and the rationing of food and heating (from energy shortages, many people die from extreme cold) will do that the unpopularity of the government and the Communist Party soar. However, major riots don´t occur and the rate of social conflict remains low due to the high discretion displaying repressive leader. The agrarian program designed by the president reconstitution (‘systematization’) exacerbates the problem of food availability. But Ceauşescu not see it that way: the leader has lost all sense of reality. Continue with his agenda, and even conducts public presentations on farms and stables that have been provided previously well-fed animals and plastic fruits and vegetables.
It´s such a day like today 24 years ago when started the Timişoara uprising from the Timișoara Orthodox Cathedral (Catedrala Mitropolitană). The protest broke out to repudiate government persecution of a political opponent, embodied in the figure of the Hungarian Reformed church pastor László Tőkés whose had made critical comments against the regime’s Systematization policy and complained that the Romanians don´t even know their human rights to foreign media. State repression leads to the worsening of the social scene, and subsequent days are characterized by demonstrations staged by students, workers and ordinary citizens, who seem to have lost their fear. The Romanian flag with socialist shield ripped from its center becomes a symbol that runs throughout the country.To these reactions, the system responds with an increasingly brutal persecution and accusations of ‘fascist coup and agitation‘.
The last public speech of Nicolae Ceauşescu takes place the 21th on December in the central square of Bucharest. The president proposed to take advantage of what was called a public meeting to be tailor made to condemn the events in Timisoara , and he did. Most citizens boos him and, in an attempt to calm down , advertises ridiculous increases in the minimum salary. But this is not enough: the masses react negatively and his security advisers recommend him that safeguards inside the building. The speech is broadcast live and direct around the country and although the air is removed and replaced with a still image, most of the population has realized that something strange is happening. Everyone naturally turns to the streets in major cities under the slogans of “Death to the dictator” and “Down with the government”. Communist Party committees are looted and set on fire documents.
After that, Ceauşescu and his wife take a helicopter to run away but finally they were arrested by police just hours later. And have no doubt: in the streets, the army also failed to respond, whereas the main references of the state and its activists are executed on the spot. And the same forces which will lead to summary trial the president the 25th on December. After two hours they were executed by a firing squad.
In the wake of the revolution, 1,104 people died, 162 of these occurring in the protests that took place from 16 to 22 December 1989 and brought an end to the Ceauşescu regime and the remaining 942 in the riots before the seizure of power by a new political structure, the National Salvation Front. Most deaths occurred in cities such as Timişoara, Bucharest, Sibiu and Arad. The number of injured reached 3,352, of which 1,107 are for the period in which Ceauşescu still held power, and the remaining 2,245 are for the period after the seizure of power by the National Salvation Front.