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Climate and Live Animal Exports – November 29 and December 2 in Bucharest

Friday there was another climate march, again as part of the events taking place around the world on that date, with several cities in Romania participating as well. However, with the planting taking place the next day, I didn’t attend and, if I stumbled upon relatively little information about the events that took place elsewhere in the world, likely indicating that it was a much more subdued affair there as well, about the Bucharest march I hardly found anything, despite searching. More exactly, I found a single report, showing up in the exact same form on a few sites, and a handful of pictures that I guess were posted as something of an “official” album, plus a post announcing, just after 5 PM, that the march was going to start in ten minutes. Otherwise, saw a few “old guard” activists sharing the event and Greenpeace Romania stating that they’re joining it, but no indication that they or any other established environmental NGO or group took on organizing it again.
As such, there’s little additional information I can add here and am mainly writing this in order to mark the moment, but I will mention that people were asked to gather at the fountain area in University Square from 4 PM and the march ended at the Parliament, or more exactly across the street from it, at Izvor Park. That report mentions a few hundred participants and the pictures clearly show that they marched on the sidewalk, but there’s also one indicating that a die-in was staged at some point, though I can’t quite say when or where. The event was listed as ending at 8 PM, but exactly when the end was called and people scattered, I have no idea.

On the other hand, I did attend yesterday’s protest demanding a ban on live animal exports, though it was scheduled to take place between 4 PM and 7 PM and I only got there at 4:23 PM and left at 6 PM, when one of those leading the chants said that he had to go and the Ministry of Agriculture officials, since that’s where the protest took place, drove away as well. The Ministry’s hours actually end at 5 PM and the delegation that went inside for a discussion did come out around that time, with others, probably regular employees in the Ministry, leaving in two groups, the first one around the same time and the second a fair bit later, but those at the top seemed to take their time, even spending some time in the cars after leaving the building. However, they also seemed to want to make a point of not avoiding the protesters, leaving through the front gate, with the windows down and throwing a quick greeting in passing. Representatives of those raising sheep for export also took part in the discussion, vehemently opposing any ban.
Since I was there, have some pictures of my own and can say that about 100 people were present during the time I was there, the total likely being a little higher, since some left before others arrived. There were plenty of signs and banners brought by the organizers and those from one or two other NGOs that attended, plus a few regular participants who had made their own, and the organizers also brought a large screen and speakers, footage depicting the horrors of live animal exports, including some obtained during the rescue operations following the capsizing of the Queen Hind, which was what brought the issue again into the public eye, playing in a loop. Not all of it had sound, but some of it did, and that did cause some problems when the chanting started, the two regular loudspeakers being no match for the speakers and the shouts and chants tending to fade away a short distance from the point of origin, even if the participants were gathered in a small area. And since I mentioned the small area, this was probably the one protest that was aided by being required to stay inside the area fenced in by the gendarmes, for obvious reasons.
According to the statement released by the organizers, the discussions didn’t result in anything new or more favorable, the official position remaining that already stated by the Prime Minister, which is that live animal exports should gradually be replaced with meat exports, with a goal of banning live animal exports “in the medium term”, but the only promise on the table at the moment is more thorough checks for these transports, attempting to ensure that they comply with the existing norms in terms of the conditions offered to the animals. Otherwise, the talks centered around the income brought by these exports, the fact that the price for live animals is much lower than that for meat being dismissed as the representatives of the exporters stressed that they’d go bankrupt without them due to the vastly insufficient capacity of Romanian slaughterhouses, and especially considering the fact that the main markets for live animals are Muslim countries and only a small part of even those slaughterhouses have a halal certification. While pointing out that this will take time to produce visible results, the officials promised significant investments in the animal farming and processing sector, which obviously displeased activists as well, some of them even firmly promoting, and demanding, veganism and the rest basing their stance on the obvious reality that most people should eat less meat, and possibly animal products in general, for health reasons, and that, considering the current population, people in general definitely need to switch to at least a primarily plant-based diet for environmental reasons. On the other hand, the activists were at least satisfied that the 180 sheep still alive out of those rescued from the vessel are currently safe and, while the ownership situation is still uncertain, the authorities promised to do everything in their power to hand them to NGOs that will care for them for the rest of their days.

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