You know, I’ve met Emil Boc several times, the (apparently) permanent mayor of Cluj-Napoca. He’s a nice guy and quite charming. But he’s an old Communist bootlick and one of the most racist anti-Gypsy politicians in the country, and that’s saying something.
Yesterday, I couldn’t help but note that the Pata Rat garbage dump, described by its residents as hell on Earth, something that I can attest is no exaggeration, was burning yet again. According to the news reports, it took 18 hours to put out the fire.
Last year, I wrote about it when the same thing happened, unable to really believe it when Boc and his administration blamed the gypsies for intentionally setting the fire. Fires at the dump also happened twice in 2016 (May and August), once in 2015, once in 2008, and God only knows how many times before that. And each time, children suffer and die, to say nothing of the adults.
Emil Boc’s response every time:
I’ve been writing about this garbage dump since 2010 when I saw a big display at the Cluj airport bragging about the city’s new waste disposal system. But the ugly reality is far different than the slick ads in the airport.
The City of Cluj is a different administrative entity than the County (Judet) of Cluj. The Pata Rat garbage dump is hidden just a few hundred meters behind the airport on land that technically belongs to the county, but is controlled by the city.
“Officially”, the garbage dump has been “closed” several times, and is always described by the press as “temporary” in nature, even though it’s been “temporarily open” since at least the summer of 2011 when I first visited.
Gypsies were already living at the garbage dump that summer but their numbers swelled when Boc forcibly evicted 76 families from (the city of) Cluj and (literally!) dumped them off at Pata Rat. They aren’t locked in there behind bars, but they are caught in a Catch-22 because the city won’t give them any identification papers, preventing them from receiving social services, getting jobs, or renting a place elsewhere.
Approximately 1,500 people live in Pata Rat, including some 700 children, many of whom have died or been permanently maimed from rat bites. At least one child has been crushed by a trash truck, and there are no schools, health clinics, or running water at the dump.
His spokesperson at the time, Oana Buzatu, told the Telegraph:
Before [the Gypsies] were [forcibly evicted], they were living in slums anyway. When they were moved to Pata Rat, it wasn’t that the land was bad and no one wanted to live there. It was just the only available area.
Translation: “Fuck those animals.”
Cluj, and indeed all of Romania, is woefully inadequate at recycling its garbage to the point where the EU may begin fining Romania up to 200,000 euros per day. Instead, Cluj relies on these gypsies to comb through the toxic junk at the garbage to sort out plastic bottles and aluminum cans which are then recycled.
Look, I realize that most Romanians loathe Gypsies. But Boc’s “management” of the Pata Rat dump is criminal. Beyond the threat to the people who live there, it has cost the city and county a lot of money to extinguish all these trash fire. Furthermore, pollution doesn’t distinguish between Gypsies and ethnic Romanians, and toxic clouds of smoke blowing through town are a menace to everyone.
This is 2017. Romania has been a member of the EU for 10 years now. It is deeply shameful that the city that once contended for the title of European Culture of Capital in 2021 is depriving people of ID so that they’re forced to live in an illegal garbage dump that is constantly catching on fire.
Are you really telling me that you can’t do better than this, Mr. Boc?