Like the Mi-kmaq people’s fight in New Brunswick, the people of Pungesti together with activists from all over Romania fight against big oil and the police state against the unlawful and unjust fracking of their lands for profit. After several days of clashes, Chevron has decided, for now at least, to suspend operations there, handing activists another victory in the global fight for Earth’s rights. Today I got to talk with leading Romanian activist, environmentalist and overall badass Brianna Caradja about her battles in Pungesti and the fight to save Earth:
Q: Can you explain to the readers what the protests in Pungesti are about and why it is important to Romania and the World in general?
Brianna: They are against fracking. First of all, no one was consulted regarding fracking operations being done in their area. And in the Pungesti area only, it seems Chevron leased or bought about 24.000 acres. Now correct information about the dangers of Hidraulic Fracking is well known, and yet our government just singlehandedly deceided to welcome Chevron (and a few others, including Russian Gazprom) with open arms. Against people’s will. To the rest of Romania it’s a signal that together we can fight back, and make our opinion be heard. We CAN fight the system, and we are ! Today 70 percent of Romania’s territory is being “okayed” for fracking. Are they insane?
To the rest of the world : look, we are a small East European country. Communist dictatorship until 1989. Corrupt governments since. And yet we do rise, and persevere !
Q: I love the Romanian countryside, It is beyond comparison. I saw today that Chevron announced they were suspending operations there for the time being yet again. A small victory in what is sure to be a long war against ‘Big Oil’. How organized is the resistance there in Pungesti?
Brianna: Indeed a small victory. But Chevron lied before, after our big rallies in Pungesti in mid-october. They said they were giving up for the moment… Only to come back with 1000 military riot police ! Big oil lies all the time. So far we are counting on people only. Coming to stay as long as they can. One day, one week.
After today’s violence, they also destroyed our camp, located in a private field (trespassing ! ). They trashed our makeshift tents, and all that was set up for cooking, and a generator for keeping laptops up. At this time we do not know to what extent they trashed everything. Also they are trying to “plant” evidence of weapons. We will know later, seems they claim to have found molotov cocktails, and other bullshit.
Yes, Romanian countryside can look like a dream !
Q: How long have you been a green activist and was there an event that told you ‘I’m going to fight for our Earth and the rights of our people”?
Brianna: I was born in the fear of nuclear weapons. I grew up horrified by nuclear plants. And massive killer oil spills. I guess it’s hard NOT to become a green activist ! So many are still asleep, yet it seems that all this violence (against nature and against people) does trigger awakenings !
Q: My Wife’s name is also Brianna. We first heard about you on the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures Halloween Special”. The guys interviewed you because you are related to Vlad Dracul the Impaler, who is a national hero in Romania. How does it feel to be related to such a mysterious man?
Brianna: (laughing) feels good. Puts more pressure on being active ! A big sisterly hug to your wife
Q: Getting back to Pungesti, have you yourself been involved with the protests there and do you plan on continuing to be?
Brianna: Yes, and yes. Today I stayed home to be able to share, distribute and disseminate what happens. Being an activist means you have to know when being “on barricades” is important, but also to know when your communicating skills would be best for everyone involved.
But I can’t say where I will be tomorrow or next week. Or for christmas. This year in not one of staying idle ! Tomorrow we will have had time to assess the damage in Pungesti, and decide what next. Right now there are still some of our people in police arrest. This is our focus.
Q: As an environmentalist, what sort of connections have you made with other groups and is there a common front against fracking amongst European activists in Europe?
Brianna: there is some very good communication between activists and groups all over Europe, and not only. France, the UK, Germany, Poland … we all benefit from our common experiences.
France just banned shale gas, so did Bulgaria. UK turned sides this fall. Germany wobbled, but activists really turned the pressure on, so they stopped.
In Romania we have governments that are all minions to big corporations. It’s sick to watch them abuse the people, and create new laws that are totally unconstitutional ! The ONLY thing that can now stop them is street pressure.
Q: Activists have called for Prime Minister Victor Ponta to step down because of the heavy handed police presence there in Pungesti. Some 1,000 riot police. Can you tell us how ‘heavy’ and what abuses have taken place there?
Brianna: Riot police (who is military in Romania) has been used in vast numbers, always extremely disproportionate to the number of protesters. We are calling for a stepdown, yes. Personally I would “step down” not only the government, but the whole parliament, who sits fat and idle, passes crazy laws, and generally is only there to get more riches (bribery is a proven fact).
Abuses are of 2 kinds : first against people by passing unconstitutional laws that go against citizen’s integrity and rights. Secondly direct abuses via riot police, who overuses force, and brutalizes people.
Q: The Chief of the Secret Services (SRI) called you ‘Eco-Anarchists’. Is that an accurate description?
Brianna: well, most people do not know the real meaning of anarchism to start with, and I don’t expect our “powers that be” to be above average IQ wise. I want freedom, respect, dignity and integrity. If this is anarchism, so be it !
Q:. Is there anything you want to say to the activists, anti-frackers, anarchists, environmentalists and others out there who share your opinions and your fight for a better world out there? And how can they help the people of Pungesti?
Brianna: Let us know each other more, let us share our experience, we have to become what these guys cannot be : a planetary movement for building a new paradigm. We are many, we share the same goals. Let’s do this !
Helping Pungesti : first of all we are victims of mainstream media either shutting up, or denigrating us. raising awareness of Romania’s fight against fracking and corruption would be great. We use “cross protesting”, it’s a very good awareness tactic. We always have banners mentioning other fights in other countries. Recently we did this with Balcombe UK against fracking.
IT’s all about raising awareness !
Adam: I thank you from the bottom of my rebellious heart for your kind and informative words. Solidarity to you, solidarity to the people of Pungesti and Romania. Keep fighting the good fight and may rebellion and hope be with you.
Brianna: Thank you ! So be it ! May your rebellious heart beat to a song of a planetary freedom.