Belina – Episode 2 – Captured Island

On the 23rd of August 2018, Romanian prime-minister Viorica Dăncilă orders the hydroelectric project generically named “Turnu Magurele-Nicopole” to be included in the list of strategic projects. What is kept hidden behind the generic name is the exact place where the hydroelectric dame is to be constructed, Belina Island on the Danube.

That same day, 23rd Auguts 2018, is prime-minister Dăncilă’s first public appearance after the biggest protest against her government. At 10th of August 2018, hundreds of thousands of Romanians had taken to the streets to protest against the government headed by Viorica Dăncilă, meeting brutal and unprecedented agression of the authorities. The two following weeks she had spent in hiding, without making any declaration.
Viorica Dăncilă later declared that she had taken a spontaneous vacation.

In her first appearance after these events, Viorica Dăncilă suggestst that what happened on the 10th of August was an unsuccesful coup d’etat against her government, and announces a gigantic hydroelectric plant on Belina Island.

Since 2011 Belina Island has been captured by the company “Tel Drum”, a company privatised and controlled through middle-men by Liviu Dragnea, , former president of the Romanian Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Chamber of Deputies, and current inmate of Rahova prison in Bucharest.

Officially Tel Drum and the Romanian national administration of waters closed a lease of the water surface to the former in the scope of “fisheries development”. The company Tel Drum, however, went on to cut the Pavel arm of the Danube (which is separating Belina Island from the Romanian shore) with dams and to put in place barricades and security guards thus cutting off the island from its surroundings and denying entry to locals, including local fishermen. The barriers and security guards remain in place to this day.

The story however begins much earlier, with the promise of a pharaonic development made by the Romanian dictator Ceaușescu in the 1970s. The promise, after 50 years, has not been fulfilled but neither has it died away as it is used every time the local or national administration seems the need for announcing something grandiose.

From Ceaușescu to Dagnea, Crin Antonescu, Ponta and today’s prime minister Viorica Dăncilă almost every Romanian leader of the last 30 years has announced great projects for Belina Island, up until the utopian promise has become an electoral lie, recycled and recycled again.

In second episode of our mini-series we invite you on a journey in time, starting 50 years ago when politics entered the island. A story about how to capture an entire island on the Danube, step by step.

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2019-08-06T18:50:07+02:00 August 6th, 2019|Home, Projects, Videos|

Belina – Episode 1 – Treasure Island

Belina is a metaphor for Romania. Once we understood what has happened with this piece of land in the last years, we understood better what is happening to nowadays’ Romania.

On this island on the shore of the Danube River, one can easily see what it means when some people put themselves above the law, and the power of state institutions put in place to defend the rights of citizens weighs no more than some useless declarations on paper.

In the last two years, while documenting protests in defense of the rule of law in Bucharest – where people started to talk about the imminent installation of a dictatorship – we have made regular trips to Teleorman county and seized all chances to enter Belina, the treasure island.

On Belina, laws and rights exist only in theory. There is no transparency of political decisions, crimes happen behind illegal barriers, law enforcement officers work only for those in power, and if these people ever have to face a judge, their court proceedings are delayed, laws are changed in their benefit and the injustice to citizens is never made up for.

The story on the ground, at Belina, has always the same main character: Liviu Dragnea, the strongman behind the Romanian government.

Corruption in Teleorman, and even more so on Belina is not an abstract thing at all, as here it means that someone, from one day to the other, takes the fish from your table and denies you access to the island which for generations had been the local fishing ground and until 2011 the economic backbone of tens of industrial fishermen in the region. And their families of course.

Nowhere in the whole world does the presumption of innocence exist for politicians in the eye of the public. After having listened to testimonies of the people in Teleorman, and after having been numeroous times on Belina, we can tell that Liviu Dragnea is guilty.

For 20 years, Dragnea has been in the highest public offices in that county. And he has claimed to work for the benefit of the community. In fact, though, what he left behind behind is a place where even the notion of common good is unknown to the local administration. Above all, Dragnea makes himself guilty of the poverty of the people he has ruled for oh-so many years.

The day will come when a judge will have to pronounce how many laws Dragnea broke in order to put his hands on former state-owned properties, benefit from former state-owned companies and take control over an island, a county and an entire country.

We are no judges, we cannot give a verdict and state here and now which are the laws that Dragnea broke or how many his people changed for their own benefit. But what we can do is take you on a journey where all you need to take with you is common sense, so you can judge for yourself.

2019-08-06T18:36:36+02:00 May 8th, 2019|Home, Projects, Videos|

We have no one here but Dragnea

Romanian

In our film, a road movie from Teleorman, you can see why there are all the reasons to be afraid of the teleormanisation of Romania. On the roads of Teleorman, paved for millions by Tel Drum, you encounter beautifully situated villages, in which half of the houses are empty, left behind by their inhabitants who went on with their lives in other counties of Romania or abroad, because, as those who still resist say, the only one you can work for in Teleorman is Liviu Dragnea, impersonated either by Tel Drum, the construction company he controls, or by the public administration. Dragnea and his people virtually own Teleorman, here there is nothing changing from one hand to the other, without a third hand opening in between, firmly asking for the share.

After being in power in Teleorman for over 20 years, Liviu Dragnea is now holding the strings of power in Romania. He is president of the deputy chamber and the ruling party PSD – and the strongman behind the government. Dragnea is convicted for electoral fraud and serving a suspended jail sentence of two years. Recently he was convicted in first instance for another 3 and a half years in a case of abuse of office. To get away with it, since 2016 Dragnea and his allies are butchering fundamental laws of the country to subjugate the justice system and state institutions still preserving their independence.

If something doesn’t belong to Dragnea and his people, the business is with a political friend, as is the case with the whole garbage disposal system of the county, assigned to Polaris, so indirectly to Radu Mazare the fugitive former mayor of Constanta, sentenced for cases of corruption in abserntia to more than six years in jail. Polaris is a company that takes its share for many years, and that sues anyone who dares not to pay them, even if for years they don’t bother to come and take the garbage to the landfill; a landfill established on a plot that was bought by Liviu Dragnea right before the political decision to open it on the plot was taken. The minibuses taking you from one place to the other in Teleorman, the farms, the silos, the fishing grounds, shops, villas – all are with “la famiglia”.

The naive observer traveling through Teleorman might ask: “Well if they own so much, mustn’t they be succesful businessmen?” Anything but. The single success of people like Dragnea is to have taken legally and illegally what used to be state property. Once in political positions they took what belonged to the Romanians for little or no money and now let them pay, for lousy monopoly services. Or even for nothing, because they can. Under these conditions, sadly, in Teleorman you will not find succesful entrepeneurs as in the place of a market economy there is a mafia economy, discouraging any initiative by anyone coming from outside of “la famiglia”.

Dragnea moved on to Bucharest, to national politics and ever more power, leaving behind in Teleorman a diminished and depressed people, a people in need of a gleam of hope for the future, other than running away. Because people from Teleorman do not leave, they run away. As we know, it is difficult for those violated years on end to stand up against their violator. Where’s the police, you might ask. Well, everything is with “la famiglia”. But not all is lost, the positive, yes positive, is that you need only to spend one day on the streets of Teleorman with your eyes open, and you will see the house of cards that Dragnea built. This system cannot survive, it is too obvious, and it was constructed by greedy bandits without soul or imagination

Make sure you have the CC enabled for English subtitles

2019-05-06T23:26:09+02:00 July 1st, 2018|Home, Projects, Videos|
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