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The Former Intelligence Officers and the Former Petty Criminals

13 Aug 2004 - 00:00

by DORIN TUDORAN - August 13 2004

A lot has been written about the former members of the communist intelligence services [Securitatea]. It is still done: with a lot of tolerance.

It will still be done: admiringly. We did not have a lustration law that would have allowed a national reconciliation nourished by the humanity of the victims granting a second chance to their torturers. We got instead the former torturers’ economic, political and social advancement.

The political parties are full of them; the government cannot work without them. As parliamentarians they go around in limousines; as diplomats they walk the world’s meridians in Bally shoes; as journalists in the public radio and television they are instrumental to the broadcasts, while the free market economy helped them get rich by as many billions of lei as the stars on the military gear showing their former ranks.

At a conference taking place in Greece, I think, the idea of passing a bill on lustration resurfaced - an attempt as successful as pumping life again up the Vladimir Ilici Lenin’s mummy. One political party, with roots deep down in history, tries to get born again from its own cinders, with a new leadership. Only that its attempt to promote a law of lustration 15 years after the events in December 1989 is bound to have the same success as the efforts of a drowning man to come to shore while clinging to a floating straw.

Whom should we make the subject now of a lustration law?! Those that should have been its subjects managed to worn out our collective memory to such an extent that now the people who were looking for them back in 1989, to lynch them, are now applauding them and voting for them.

In one and a half decade, the Romanian society did not even manage to stop the rise of the other clique: the one of the pay-me-for-no-work people. The most famous such ne’er-do-wells is a man I know since he was selling stolen Polish-made jeans as original American ones. He always fell for the same joke one of his neighbors played on him: "Listen, Iosca, I heard the Interpol is searching for you!" "Why?" asked the nowadays presidential adviser [the author is referring at adviser Iosif Dan]. "For illegal possession of brains," answered the fun-making neighbor laughingly.

But, as popular wisdom teaches us, the one to laugh last has the better laugh. Nowadays Iosca is the one laughing: in night clubs where the entrance fee is higher than the monthly pension of a retired university professor; riding in cars his former neighbor could not afford to buy even in a century of honest work; at Cotroceni [Presidential Palace], and most of all when presenting his business-card reading "Hero of the Revolution."

Rightly or not, the heroic deeds of the famous petty criminal were contested more than once. Eye-witnesses claim the "hero" shot down 29 innocent people because the supposedly "terrorists" did not want to surrender. Others believe that the Revolution started at a time when our petty thief was stoned and grabbed a weapon thinking it was a bottle of Johnny Walker, thus bringing all his past, present and future on the side of the Revolution. Then all the public tenures and perks were up for grabs for him.

Other people did not kill 29 so-called terrorists each and yet our collective conscience would not have become so radical without them and the popular uprising would have occurred much later. What perks, permits, land plots and free-passes got people like [former dissidents]: Carmen Popescu, Gheorghe Calciu, Vasile Paraschiv, Ionel Cana, Doina Cornea, Gheorghe Brasoveanu, Gabriel Andreescu, Paul Goma and Dan Desliu?

[President] Ion Iliescu is adamant: he wants to walk into the hall of historic fame holding the arm of an illiterate praetorian guard who, if pressed a little, would either swear on your mother or holler "Papers prove it!" Then, what’s the point in asking why the December 1989 uprising was turned into a palace coup?

Translation by ANCA PADURARU
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