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kskiska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-28-04 10:43 PM
Original message
Roma (Gypsies) face starvation in the slums of Slovakia
Gypsies loot supermarkets as government slashes benefits and fails to offer jobs

Dressed in thin pullovers and baggy trousers, half a dozen children gather outside on the trash-strewn street to watch hungrily as two older children spoon a semolina pudding out of plastic bowls.

A grandmother, wearing a red headscarf as protection against the chill wind that blows across the east Slovakian steppe, stands chatting to neighbours in the osady or settlement where the Roma community lives in abandoned houses and wooden shacks, without water, electricity or sewers.

Because almost none of the adults who live here can find a job, they have plenty of time to discuss the government's latest cuts in benefits and how to avoid starvation.

Last Saturday 200 Roma - gypsies - left this settlement in eastern Slovakia, reminiscent of a Third World slum, and walked across the muddy fields, past neat cottages, to the centre of the town of Trhoviste. Reaching the co-op supermarket, they broke the windows, forced their way into the shop and left with armloads of merchandise, yelling as if it was a slogan: 'We want to eat!'.

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pinto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-28-04 10:50 PM
Response to Original message
1. thanks for the post, though sad, my best friend is a descendant of Roma,
Slovak gypsies. They've survived amazingly well, sometimes nefariously, under little known pogroms and have such a fierce sense of family, it ain't funny...I forwarded the tale to her....Pinto
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kskiska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-28-04 11:01 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Interesting
I drove through the Hungarian countryside back in 1971 and saw many gypsy caravans in the fields.

If the Bush Junta is allowed to continue their cutbacks on social programs, we may be hearing stories like this right here at home.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-29-04 03:13 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. My maternal grandmother was from Bohemia..and was part gypsy
Her mother was a gypsy who married a young man (my great grandfather) who went on to become a professor in Baden-Baden..

I know nothing about them :(.. my grandmother died when I was 12, and I lived outside the US for 8 of those years so I never really knew her much.. That's sad.. I bet she could have really told some interesting stories..

Here's some info on Bohemian gypsies..

Bohemia Recherch
By K.E. Watt
for New York City Opera

The "Bohemia" of Giacomo Puccinis La bohme is not that ancient kingdom of Eastern Europe now called the Czech Republicits the bustling Paris of 1840. But there is a connection.

Medieval Bohemias population included large numbers of gypsiesdark-skinned nomads so named because they were once erroneously believed to have come from Egypt. In fact, these tribes migrated originally from India, calling themselves "Romas," from the Sanskrit word meaning "man of the low caste of musician." These gypsies were the Bohemians who wandered into France in the 15th century as itinerant blacksmiths and entertainers, forging traditions that continue today in Roma tribes strewn worldwide, still subsisting on societys fringes by luck and sharp wits.

In France, the word "bohmien" became synonymous with "gypsy," and not in a flattering way, invoking the vagabond Romasmusical and clever, disheveled and furtivea dangerous urban proletariat. By the early 19th century, Bohemia had come to describe not just the geographical homeland of vagrant foreigners, but the figurative home of any disenfranchised counterculturelike the communities of students and artists that crowded into Paris after the revolutions. Writing in 1834, Flix Pyat found the penchant of those young people for exoticism and ostentation to be "outside the law, beyond the reaches of society.They are the bohmiens of today." Gypsies. They could be wealthy or destitute, revolutionary or apolitical, French or not. The constant among them was the impulse to challenge mainstream culture. And wherever they congregated was this figurative "Bohemia."


Bohemias principle chronicler, Henry Murger, arrived in Paris as a second-generation bohemian whose comrades had emerged, like himself, from the laboring classes in the provinces, with no solid foothold in the urban bourgeoisie. These bohemians were conscripted by their circumstances, without education or means, prospering only by their wits. But they knew they might survive, even thrive, in Bohemia, where wits were coin of the realm, and nothing was more highly prized than creative scavenging. Demonstrable artistic talent was incidental for these bohemians, for, as Murger wrote, "their everyday existence was a work of genius."


Claiming a distinguished pedigree for all fellow bohemians, Murger writes that " have existed in all climes and agesfrom ancient Greece, to modern time." And so they have, even to a cultural apogee in the "charming and terrible" American counterculture of the 1950s 60s. But Bohemia will flower anew wherever ardor is invoked by opportunity. For despite its usefulness as a social and cultural paradigm, Bohemia is fundamentally a state of mind, with all its power to seduce and transform. And as fleeting, after all.

K.E.Watt, Brooklyn, NY

2003, K. E. WATT. All rights reserved.
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varun Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-29-04 09:57 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Gypsies...
...have faced centuries of discrimination all over the world, and yet thrived. There's a film called "Latcho Drom" - beautiful portrayal of gypsies all over the world - from India to Egypt to Europe.
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m-jean03 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-29-04 10:51 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. "Gadjo Dilo"
is by the same director, a fictional tale of a Frenchman living among the Roma and searching for a mysterious singer. Highly recommend.
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Astarho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-29-04 04:55 PM
Response to Original message
6. kick
Edited on Sun Feb-29-04 05:42 PM by Astarho
Unfortunately this is not surprising, given Europe's treatment of the Roma (even after WWII).

edit- press release from the Roma National Congress

From the beginning of 2004, a new social benefit system was introduced in Slovakia. Social benefit payments have been reduced to half, and as among Roma the unemployment rate is quite high and most of them are depending on the social benefit, this measure has affected mostly them.
As a follow up of the new social legislation, the Roma have protested a several times, but as there was no reaction from the Governments side and determinated by the fear of survival, they have commenced to raid the stores in groups of 40-50 persons.
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