The miners on the miner riots

Did all of them step off?

All of them!

And what was the reaction of the driver and that of his companion?

They asked me why I was doing it, why I was-n?t letting them go. They were really angry and even shouting at me: ?Let them go!? but they finally filled the car with another group and left.

But didn?t they say anything else?

They said nothing else, apart from asking me why I wasn?t letting them go. But I said that they had nothing to do there since those people in Ferentari did them no harm. The tip-up truck


had Bucharest number plates but I cannot tell where it came from and how.

But what did those in that tip-up truck really do?

I can?t exactly say since I hadn?t been there but when I came back I found out that some of the people who went there came back with certain valuable things, even colour TVs and cassette players. And then, those joining me where throwing this situation back at me, that they did-n?t go and that they lost so many things.

Yet, which was the slogan which made them go there?

To put the crooks in order. This slogan was on everybody?s lips.

And there was another thing which bemused me: after all the miners had left, there had remained a group which had been given guard clothes şof the old patriotic guard,ţ These kept on hanging around for another 5 days to clean Bucharest. After all that we tried to gather them around and to take them to the train station.

Was it difficult to gather them around?

Very difficult because under such circumstances when they come from various mines, one can easily lose control over them because they mix so that you cannot tell who belongs where. You say something to your mate and a stranger has a go at you for bothering him. Thus, when they are bunched, one can easily lose control.

Did the leaders lose control over the crowd in Bucharest?

I think they did! And I especially remember a scene. A civilian showed up and said: ?And that was Universităţii Square? And the miners immediately let into him with hoses and sticks.

And who was that civilian?

I don?t know and neither did the miners but then another man showed up and said: ?Hoy, the guy you smacked was the mayor of the sector.? What else can you say when they were taking it back on each other, it was just something difficult to understand. At least I couldn?t understand it.

Had there been many violence scenes?

Yes they had, why should I deny it? To my shame, there had been. But I told my people over and over again ? Mates, don?t do that because they are going to have you on film twice or maybe three times and then you won?t be able to deny it. You deny once, you deny twice but you can?t keep on doing it forever and there will be a time when you have to take responsibility for your acts.? Some got it, some didn?t! The truth is that there were also civilians who were coming down to provide the miners with alcohol bottles meant to open their taste for fighting, for chaos. All of it left me a bitter taste. And between brackets: the drinking problem was already endemical. There was a time when during each miner strike cars were coming with free booze for everybody.

Who was sharing it and why?

I can?t understand who was interested in doing it and why.

It is indeed difficult to understand.

I think there were interests dictated from above. And that was the very reason why the strikes were so difficult to hold in check because when the miners were stoned they became very difficult to control and I think that that was also the point.

Yet, generally speaking, did the union leaders try to stir or to prevent the miners from becoming aggressive?

All the leaders I had the chance to meet during my time, since I had been a leader up to 1991, had tried to control the miners. And even before going to Bucharest in June 1990, we had a little gathering and we decided to do our best to hold them in check. ş? ţ

And did Cozma agree with it?

Yes, he did, but I don?t think he was able to keep his word. He saw that people were into it and he decided to go for the violent version according to which the force and the crowd were the key to everything. And the miners believed the same thing. When I told them that we should go to negotiate they replied: ? Dude, these days nobody goes to pay respects anymore, you have to stand your ground!?

Where do you think they got this mentality from?

They got it from others who embraced it and tried to put it into practice. Sometimes, during the strikes, while gathered at Paro?eni or Vulcan, for example, there were groups of miners throughout the Valley who were gathering the others from the rest of the mines and if they did-n?t want to go, they were threatening them.

(Nicolae Croitoru - Union leader at E.M Vulcan from March 1990 till October 1991)

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