Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Velvet Revolution

It was 1989 and for several weeks, thousands upon thousands

gathered between Mustek and the Muzeum.

The wide boulevard, lined with department stores and hotels,

would become known around the world.

Wenceslas Square

would be packed by a half a million souls,

who no longer would allow the occupation of 40 years to continue.

Vaclev Havel, a playwright, would lead them.

It would be called the Velvet Revolution.

Here is the story from Wikipedia

The "Velvet Revolution" (Czech: sametová revoluce, Slovak: nežná revolúcia) (November 16December 29, 1989) refers to a bloodless revolution in Czechoslovakia that saw the overthrow of the communist government there.

On November 17, 1989, a peaceful student demonstration in Prague was severely beaten back by the riot police. That event sparked a set of popular demonstrations from November 19 to late December.

By November 20 the number of peaceful protesters assembled in Prague had swelled from 200,000 the day before to an estimated half-million. A general two-hour strike, involving all citizens of Czechoslovakia, was held on November 27.

With other communist regimes falling all around it, and with growing street protests, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced on November 28 they would give up their monopoly on political power. Barbed wire was removed from the border with West Germany and Austria in early December.

On December 10, the Communist President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-communist government in Czechoslovakia since 1948, and resigned. Alexander Dubček was elected speaker of the federal parliament on December 28 and Václav Havel the President of Czechoslovakia on December 29 1989.

As one of the results of the Velvet Revolution, the first democratic elections since 1946 were held in June, 1990, and brought the first completely non-communist government to Czechoslovakia in over forty years"

Today there is no Czechslovakia, it is now the Czech Republic.

But as I walked through this famous square on this sunny afternoon,

I imagined the energy that occured here not two decades ago.

In these few short years,

a few KFC's and more than a few Yellow Arches have found root,

but the character of the city is virtually untouched.

Praha is a gem.

When we arrived,

We stamped our passports, picked up our bags,

and walked out on to the street to catch our cab.

There was no police state waiting to go through our things,

ask us why we are here, where we will stay,

and who we will see.

Perhaps the Velvet Revolution sent it somewhere else,

Where the people there are ruled with fear.

Perhaps they too will someday pack their squares,

and hold democratic elections,

and elect a playwright president.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see you're having fun. Neal has a great Havel story.

11:20 AM  
Blogger respectisthehub said...

Somewhere there is a social formula, I am sure, that will allow us to pack fewer squares for evil and more squares for good. Glad to hear y'all are having a good time.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WoW! We have a website to bring about a Velvet Revolution here in America!

3:02 PM  

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