Pungesti, Romania, anti-fracking riots so severe the grandparents were involved

Anti-Fracking protests in Romania demonstrate megacorporations anti-democratic attempts to subvert whole countries

Green European Parliament MP’s from six countries (France , Germany , UK, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg) have sent an open letter to the European Parliament President, Martin Schultz, protesting government abuses against the citizens of Pungesti, Romania.  I’ve covered these issues recently, but essentially the Romanian Government is throwing its weight behind supporting Chevron and other multinational oil companies in starting up hydraulic fracturing operations in Romania.  The first spot for this is Pungesti, a tiny village in Eastern Romania near the border with Moldova.  The locals do not want their land poisoned by fracking operations, resulting in months of protests culminating with a “battle” in which the jandarmi, a.k.a. Gendarmes, a.k.a. National Police, were deployed to arrest dozens of people and since then have imposed a very strict draconian martial law situation on Pungesti and a couple neighboring villages.

According to many, including this open letter, the Romanian government is violating all kinds of principles of European law, including freedom of expression, freedom of journalists, freedom to move and travel.

I summarized a couple dozen news reports from the last month or so detailing what happened, as well as reports from human rights groups saying the actions are in violation of European laws.  See

Government still ensuring hydraulic fracturing happens in Pungesti, Romania, despite protests by villagers,
Chevron trying to buy shale gas rights in Romania by bribing children
and Romanians fighting Chevron’s hydraulic fracturing plans in Pungesti, while the government is doing Chevron’s dirty work

The issue for us (and me) in, say, America, isn’t so much the specific instance of these people.  The Pungesti are proving their bravery and courage, and is much in the spirit of the Răscoala ţărănimii din anul 1907, or the Romanian Peasants Revolt of 1907.  That was a time when Romanians rose up against overbearing landlords.  This region of Romania has been especially hard hit by history (I don’t want to go deep into it, but look up the history of Moldova – it’s very sad).

The issue for us is our role in causing these things to happen.  The appetite for more and more “energy” is driving the fossil fuel companies to do horrible things like fracking, and they look to subvert the politics of whole countries in order to ensure access to fossil fuel resources.

In this case all indications are that Chevron has somehow convinced the Romanian government to deploy troops to squash human rights, according to the reports I’ve summarized before, in violation of European law, according to reports from human rights organizations.

But why take my word on the anti-democratic activities of these megacorporations?  I did some yahoogling to find supporting evidence.

An in-depth report on GlobalWarmingIsReal.com goes into how U.S. Democracy is being destabilized by the oil companies while development of renewable energy technology is undermined.

A report in the Australian press discusses the subversion of Democracy by not just the oil companies, but by all the transnational megacorporations.  I see it as – the megacorporations are becoming more powerful than most countries, and wonder whether countries still have enough power to adequately enforce any laws in the face of egregious corporate abuse of the worlds’ societies.

Robert F Kennedy JR penned a piece on the Huffington Post recently describing how Big Oil is using the Republican Party to subvert American Politics to ensure that Big Oil will continue selling us the fossil fuel nightmare.

Oil Change International put up a website, dirtyenergymoney.org, with data showing the money flowing into U.S. Politicians hands from fossil fuel companies.

In December 2012, Democracy Now covered how the Koch Brothers are funding climate change denial efforts and other efforts to subvert American Politics to ensure that their company, Koch Industries, that operates oil refineries and oil pipelines, will continue in business.

In November 2013, George Monbiot write a report for The Guardian about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which is supposed to “remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations.”  The effect will be that big businesses will be able to “sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens” and “allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections.”  As Monbiot says, the “defenders of our sovereignty” are saying nothing against this.

The mechanism is known as investor-state dispute settlement.  In his report Monbiot names off several instances where a government passed a law that would protect its citizens, but a megacorporation used this kind of dispute process to nullify those laws.

On Indybay.org is a report on how Western States Petroleum Association, Chevron and other oil companies treated California legislators to an expensive dinner shortly before a vote on hydraulic fracking legislation in California.  The report has a bunch of useful links in it that are good sources of data.

That was just the result of a few minutes of yahoogling, but shows how American democracy is being subverted to serve the interests of big corporations.  That’s in America, where the U.S. Government has been subjected to years of starvation diets under increasingly Conservative rule, and is much weaker than it was a few decades ago.

This is what we the people of the world are facing – an onslaught of corporatism subverting governments around the world.  The Pungesti are simply helping us see a version of the future where corporations tell governments to arrest whole towns because the citizens are unruly and getting in the way of corporate profits.

UPDATE: In what may be a sign the Romanian Government is easing up on the protest, a rally was held today in Armăşoaia, another tiny village a couple kilometers from the Chevron site near Pungesti.  The rally was the first one held in cooperation with the Police, and consisted of 250 people gathering on private land, denouncing Chevron and the Government.

The open letter was published on the Epoch Times Romania website – this English translation comes from the Frack Off Pungesti group on Facebook:

Dear President Schulz

We are writing regarding the violation of the basic principles and regulations of the European Union which started in Romania with the events that took place on December 2, 2013, in Pungesti, and continually escalating at the time.

The right to private property was desecrated when a group of about 100 residents protesting peacefully in a resistance camp on private property near the plot that Chevron intends to drill were forcibly removed by police.

The law enforcement authorities have stepped on a private property that citizens had permission from the owner to protest and not belonging to Chevron exploration area.

The right to physical integrity and the rule of law were violated when law enforcement authorities were used to exert a disproportionate amount of power over citizens and physically abused European citizens in order to eliminate the resistance camp.

Contrary to the principle of freedom underlying the European Union, a whole village was arrested on the request of the Romanian government.  It was created on this occasion an arbitrarily defined area covering large amounts of land.  Press was denied access, and the villagers, despite the fact that private commercial contracts have been awarded free pass.

Moreover, the media was finally allowed supervised access by the authorities for a short period of time, thus preventing its ability to report on the ground and collect data from citizens involved, breaking in this way freedom of expression and the right to be informed.

This is clear violation of the rights granted to EU citizens by the European Charter and rule of law reign proves questionable.  Since the events on December 2, free movement in the area was restricted by declaring the territory as “special security zone”.  Since then rose as police presence and brutalities committed by this arbitrary controls carried out on citizens transiting the area or violence against villagers.

Over 40,000 people signed a petition demanding the immediate end to these abuses and many still signing day for this purpose.  Therefore, we urge the public condemnation of the actions of the Romanian Government, who supports and requires brutal and authoritarian actions of their citizens to facilitate the launch of a full investigation by the European Commission and to act for preventing future abuses of the rule of law in Romania.”

Sincerely,

Europarlametarii Sandrine Bélier, José Bové, Reinhard Bütikofer, Rebecca Harms, Yannick Jadot, Jean Lambert, Michele Rivasi Raul Romeva i Rueda, Bart Staes, Keith Taylor, Claude Turmes

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.
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About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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