Tag Archives: Velvet Revolution

27. November 1989

A step back in time to  Monday Nov. 27 in 1989

Lowell, MI- It was Monday under the sign of Sagittarius as George W. Bush took the presidential torch from Ronald Reagan.

It was also the release of “Christmas Vacation” with Chevy Chase and John Grisham topped the bestselling list with his “A Time to Kill.” Two major tragedies set 1989 apart from the rest: the massacre at Tiananmen Square and the Exxon-Valdez oil spill.

Just as the world lost Salvador Dali in 1989, Taylor Swift was born, according to takemebackto.com.

The following are excerpts from my memoir “Greenwich Meridian” (c) copyright 2016 Emma Palova.

“That Monday morning I dressed up warm in my Benetton jacket adorned with an tricolor ribbon, a red, white and blue sweater and jeans. I made a quick snack for the four-hour trip from Zlin to Prague. It was probably an old croissant with salami.

I boarded the 6 a.m. train to Prague called “Citron” packed with young people in the standing room only aisles.

As daylight broke into the dark morning, I felt the crisp air from the outside brush my red cheeks. Exhausted from the events of the past few months, I didn’t sleep much. I was shaking and not just from the November chill.

The last 10 days since the Nov. 17 student demonstrations in Prague were filled with political turmoil and uncertainty. I was either glued to the TV much like the entire nation or demonstrating on the town square in Zlin.

The communist regime has already fallen in the neighboring Poland. We all supported the Polish leader of revolution, Lech Walesa along with our own dissident Vaclav Havel and the Civic Forum (CF) that led the movement for freedom. This movement entered modern history as the Velvet Revolution, lasting from Nov. 17 through Dec. 10, 1989.

The mass media in former Czechoslovakia informed the nation about the General Strike on Nov. 27 in Prague and all the major cities.

“Please participate in the strike,” the media encouraged, “or if you cannot hold solidarity with the people on strike.”

That Monday, a nation that could not agree on anything, walked out of universities, factories and offices to show the power of the people.

Twenty-seven years later sitting behind my desk on a Sunday morning in rural America, while it’s still dark outside, I ask myself:

“What if the manifestation went violent like in Tiananmen Square?”

I left that trail of thought untouched.

As we disembarked from the train at the art nouveau Prague Main Station, like a river, the crowds flowed into the Wenceslas Square. 300,000 people howled in the square from noon to 2 p.m. holding their arms up with hands in the peace sign.

“Havel to the castle,” I chanted along with the crowds.

We wanted the poet, the playwright and the dissident Havel, to become the next president of Czechoslovakia, as we rang our keys and little bells.

That ring magnified by millions across the nation signified that the hour of freedom has arrived after years of darkness and oppression.

For Havel, it was an uneasy progression from a communist jail cell to the Hradcany Castle, over the last two decades since the Prague Spring in 1968.

I’ve always been claustrophobic, and the moving crowd made me nauseous. The defunct communist leadership under President Gustav Husak met most of the demands of the Civic Forum (CF), so the demonstration ended peacefully.

I remember heading into one of the pubs on the Lesser Square aka Mala Strana on the other side of the Vltava River. Havel frequented that area, and in 1994 as the president of Czech Republic, visited one of the pubs with the former USA president Bill Clinton.

Meanwhile, a different story was transpiring on the home front on that gloomy Monday. The late afternoon train took me back to hometown Zlin.

My grandpa Joseph passed from lung cancer at the Vizovice Hospital of Merciful Friars after steadily deteriorating for six months.

In one of the last conversations held at the white hospital room, that smelled of a heavy disinfectant agent, grandpa asked me about his beloved ranch. That is the house at 111 Krnovska Street in Vizovice that I inherited in grandpa’s will. Together, with husband Ludek and daughter Emma, we spent many delightful years at the ranch.

“You know I had to sell it, so I can leave the country,” I explained patiently for the 100th time.

After selling all my worldly possessions as a condition to emigration, I was holding tight onto my exit visa to the USA. Ludek was waiting for his emigration visa in Pabneukirchen, Austria.

“The ranch is in good hands of a person who loves it,” I reassured grandpa.

“Who is it?” grandpa whispered in pain.

“It’s Eugene,” I said in equal emotional pain.

“Mr. Drabek, do you want your yogurt,” asked a nurse traditionally dressed in blue with white apron and a starched white hat.”

“No,” sighed grandpa turning away from us.

…………………………………………………………….I remained in the country until Dec. 22.”

What’s your story?

In the pictures: Top, late Vaclav Havel lays flowers at the Velvet Revolution memorial on Wenceslas Square in Prague.

Bottom: Grandpa Joseph Drabek with wife Anna, daughters left to right: Ella & Anna.

For more stories on Velvet Revolution go to https://wordpress.com/post/emmapalova.com/172636

For more info on certain dates go to takemebackto.com

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

27th Anniversary of Velvet Revolution

Masses commemorate 27th anniversary of Velvet Revolution in Czech Republic in  march for freedom

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- I watched the live stream from the demonstrations commemorating the 27th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czech Republic with mixed feelings as they turned into protests against the current government. That is mainly against the third president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman.

Only yesterday hundreds of college students walked out against the President-elect Donald Trump in the USA following high school students’ and citizens’ protests across the nation.

In a time of political unrest all over the world, I attempt to dissect everything impartially. I don’t know if it is always possible to be totally without any bias because I don’t live in social isolation.

“Milos into the trash,” reverberated the crowds marching from the Prague Castle Square known as “Hradcany” across the Manes Bridge over the Vltava River and onto the Wenceslas Square. A stage was set up by the King Wenceslas statue for a concert for freedom in the evening.

At times the crowds used the 1989 slogan of the Velvet Revolution, “It’s already here,” That was a reference to the movement started by students in memory of the death of Jan Opletal by the Nazis in 1939.

ew-vaclav-havel-head

“We don’t want another totality,” was the message for the Nov. 17, 2016 events. “It’s already here.”

“It was always here, then and now,” I say while watching the history repeat itself.

I was still in Czechoslovakia in that critical period of time from Nov. 17 to Dec. 10, when the communist officials including former president Gustav Husak resigned under pressure.

A democratic coalition and an economic forum led by former dissident Vaclav Havel replaced the dictatorship.

I was finalizing my emigration to the USA to join my parents and my husband, who had already left the homeland for Austria in 1988.

I dedicate a few chapters in the Greenwich Meridian © memoir to this difficult time in my life, when I was living alone with my kids. My grandfather Joseph Drabek was already in the hospital dying from lung cancer.

In those 23 days from Nov. 17 to Dec. 10, 1989, I learned more than I have learned in all the schools: past and present, physical or virtual.

I’ve learned that a change in the society is possible as long as enough people want it, and if they are willing to stand behind their beliefs in face of adversity by taking action.

The 1989 demonstrations for freedom from the communist dictatorship spread across the country. I was standing together with thousands of others on the town squares in the cold November nights, sporting the tri-color ribbons on the lapel of my coat.

My friend Zuzana was watching my two-and-a-half year old son Jake in the stroller, while her boyfriend was speaking from the podium.

We all took part in the change. It didn’t happen by itself. And it didn’t happen overnight. It started with the political movement for the reformation of the communist party known as the “Prague Spring” in 1968.

The Velvet Revolution was 21 years in the making since the Soviet tanks invaded the country to punish the reformers including Havel. Even in prison, Havel, known as the poet of democracy, never gave up.

I’ve learned that anything is possible including my highly improbable exit from the politically torn Czechoslovakia.

I’ve learned that we are stronger than we think, and that we have to make decisions that will impact other people, as well.

Speaking about decision-making.

I was standing on the brink of freedom, with exit visa in my drawer, shaking with cold and not just from the November night, but from the things to come.

The CTK Czech Press Office covered the demonstrations in Prague.

To be continued……..

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Dissent after election 2016

Election 2016 is the biggest political upset in generations

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Grand Rapids, MI- I am no stranger to dissent. I participated in the demonstrations leading up to the Velvet Revolution in former Czechoslovakia in November of 1989.

The historic protest was against the dictatorship of the Communist Party, its leaders in the Czechoslovak government and their hardline policies instituted after Prague Spring in 1968.

This is my story.
This is my story.

The demonstrations culminated on Nov. 17, 1989 when students and actors took to the streets of Prague, followed by 10 days of chaos. Those 10 days in the  history of Czechoslovakia led both countries, Czech and Slovak republics to freedom.

Flabbergasted,  I watched the demonstrations in downtown Grand Rapids last night. Just four days ago on election eve, hundreds lined up on the bridge crossing the Grand River for Mr. Donald Trump’s last rally of the 2016 presidential campaign.

“This is our Independence Day,” he said to the crowd on Monday, Nov. 7th at 11 p.m.

Rural small town America
Rural America helps President-Elect Donald Trump to victory.

On Thursday night, hundreds of unhappy people took to the streets waving signs that read: “Trump is not my president.”

“Why are they protesting?” asked the TV anchor.

“We want to show other people that they are not alone,” said a protester in the streets.

“Alone in what?” asked the reporter.

“That Trump is not our president,” the guy said. “My vote didn’t count.”

The guy was referring to the fact that Presiden-Elect Trump won the electoral vote, but not the popular vote.

In other cities in the USA and Canada, the demonstrations mostly in front of Mr. Trump’s properties, turned into riots accompanied by violence.

President-Elect Donald Trump.
President-Elect Donald Trump.

Facebook has always been a good gauge of public sentiment. On election day, 700 million posts were election related.

“I didn’t go and protest when my candidate wasn’t elected,” posted G. E. “And I didn’t even vote for Trump or Hillary.”

In 2000 when Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore got the popular vote, but not the electoral vote and George W. Bush won the election, I didn’t go and protest.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a rally.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a rally.

I accepted the results of the democratic election process including the electoral college that propelled Mr. Bush into the White House. I don’t remember other disappointed people protesting either.

Actually W. was the only sitting American president whom I saw in Chicago at the Saint Pat’s parade after the 911 horror. I was happy to see the president of the USA. I didn’t care that he was a GOP president, that it was brisk and cold, and you had to go through security or that W. walked only a few hundred feet.

I never lost that respect to the office of the President of the USA., no matter who holds it.

In an interview with the founders of Americas Community Voices Network (ACVN) Donald & Ronald Brookins of Tampa, FL I asked the question:

“How will you accept the results either way whether your candidate wins or loses?”

“I will respond in the same way,” Donald said, “God bless our new President and God bless the United States of America.”

““The winner will be my President and the leader of the free world,” Ronald said.

The polls had major influence on the decision making of most voters.

“What kind of an impact did the polls make on your decision?”
“The polls created a sense of urgency that it was critical to vote and to encourage others to vote,” Ronald said.
“The polls allowed me to decide who was winning the election, “Donald  said. “They are a good indicator of possible results.”
In the end, it was the huge turnout in the rustic belt of America and rural voters, who felt  the current administration was ignoring them.
Previous GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney did not get the same numbers that Mr. Trump did in the rustic belt states known as the firewall.
“He’s the people’s man,” said a woman in a small community in Pennsylvania.
I had the same feeling, as we drove back home from the Gerald Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids through the rural communities on Tuesday evening. Voters were streaming into the Lowell Township Hall, into churches and the city halls., all bundled up and sporting patriotic colors and jackets.
This was the people’s election. It was the voice of change from  the obsolete Washington self-serving  bureaucracy, its institutions and non-functioning apparatus.
The people have spoken. They boldly stood up to the lies of the establishment.
Let freedom ring in our great country.
For more info on ACVN go to http://www.americascommunityvoicesnet.org

Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

Evil choices

Political showdown heats up

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI-Now, that all hell has broken loose with former speaker of the House John Boehner calling Ted Cruz Lucifer, while some voters are calling Donald Trump the Satan and all the rest are devils, we’re moving into the final showdown.

The platform has been laid out for us. We’re in political hell. You can either vote for a billionaire or a multi-millionaire. That is Republican Donald Trump versus Democrat Hillary Clinton.

 

Following social media, most people do not want either one of them. And I quote:

“Well, people. It’s pretty much over. In November, it’s going to be Clinton and Trump.

A narcissistic, pandering, manipulative liar with a lifetime of scandals who has been gunning for the White House for decades.
vs.
A narcissistic, dismissive, contradictory, thin-skinned bully who doesn’t hesitate to step on those who disagree with him.

My prediction is a massive spike in wine sales as we are all forced to decide between Sucks and Sucks slightly Less,” Stephanie Peel, Vergennes Broadband co-owner, wrote on Facebook.

I have to agree with Stephanie and not just because I subscribe to their Vergennes Broadband, but she put it so well that I can’t beat that.

However, the philosophy of voting for Trump, so Hillary doesn’t get it or vice versa, is flawed from the very beginning. It’s like choosing between two cancers: breast or prostate cancer. Which will it be?

It’s driven by desperation and anger, and as such it will only yield desperation and anger again. Something qualitatively new must happen that will change the entire political scenario.

I also value election input from Jeff TenEyck, Learn to Blog head support,who quoted what Mark Twain said a long time ago.

“If voting actually made any difference (in their agenda) they would not let us do it,” he wrote on Facebook.

“It’s all a big dog and pony show regardless of Democrats or Republicans. The whole damn show is owned and controlled by the same psychopathic megalomaniacs. So, please people stop being played for fools.”

The conventions can be brokered, so why did we vote? Maybe to exercise our democratic right.

My eyes even opened wider after reading that more than 40 percent voters are not ready for a female president, according to SheKnows.

It doesn’t surprise me that America is not ready for a female president. It all starts at the grassroots. I’ve been involved in politics for most of my adult life, and I’ve lived in a country with closed borders, that is former socialist Czechoslovakia.

Closing the borders was not a solution to anything. It actually worsened the tension inside the country. It was a political nightmare.

Throughout my journalistic career I covered mostly politics, city and town halls, counties and state reps in Michigan. I could count on the fingers of one hand how many female city managers I have encountered. Exactly one, Ruth King, and that was on my first stint in Plainwell.

Politics can get pretty rough and ugly even for a man at any level of government. Former Otisco Township supervisor Dick Reeves can attest to that. After 20 years he got recalled by his own people over the stink of Marhofer’s farm.

And as for Bernie Sanders or #feelthebern, #bernorbust, he can lead a political revolution without being the president of the USA. However, it would make it easier to lead any change in politics and economics, if Sanders was at the helm.

bernie-sanders-portrait-01-1600x1134
Bernie Sanders

Late Vaclav Havel led the 1989 Velvet Revolution as a poet and a former prisoner. After the revolution, he became the president of former Czechoslovakia.

And I write about this in my memoir, “Greenwich Meridian.”

I was there standing on the plazas in the cold November chill with other millions of people all around the country. We won in 23 days with massive demonstrations ringing our keys and lighting up the night with flames from our lighters.

America may never be ready to elect a female president. Overall, the country is conservative burdened with backwards policies designed to protect the rich from both sides, Democrats and Republicans. Further more the country is paralyzed by increased police presence and growing armament. This is much like it was in pre-Hitler and Hitler Germany. It’s broken by indebtedness to China.Both parties have the same interests and they just alternate in the election cycles.

They disagree only on things that do not matter, according to writer/researcher Ed Griffin.

But, they agree on big things like foreign policy, protecting banks and the war in the Middle East.

Progress is risky and dangerous. Collectivism and dominance are at large. Our only tool to freedom is the Internet. We need to protect it.

“Internet boats for us well,” said Griffin.

The featured image “Past Pentagon Purchasers at Play” by artist Tom Woodruff portrays psychedelic politicians and generals riding their potties.

For more on Tom Woodruff go to: http://www.woodruffdesigns.com

For Ed Griffin go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxDwT55rmIw#action=share

For Learn to Blog go to: http://learntoblog.com/

For Vergennes Broadband go to: https://vergennesbroadband.com/

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

26 years in America

Celebrating 26th anniversary of arrival in USA

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- It’s been 26 years since we’ve landed at JFK on this day, Dec. 22, 1989. The long flight from former Czechoslovakia finally ended. We took the Czechoslovak Airlines flight (CSA). People were still smoking on jets back then.

I was exhausted with two children and from the previous night ride to the Prague airport.

Me and Al Capone in America.
Me and Al Capone in America.

It was a journey into the unknown, although I have lived in the USA in the 70s. My parents were waiting for us at the frozen airport. I only had a Benetton denim jacket on and I was freezing. I was still sporting long hair and jeans from Austria.

We spent the night at a friend’s house in NYC. And then a long trip to Big Rapids, Michigan ensued. Any water tower that we passed, my son Jake wanted to climb on it. Also he insisted on sitting in my lap over and over despite the fact that he had to be buckled up.

“I’ll make you a chock for you to sit on,” said my dad.

The windows of the gray station wagon have frozen up. We were like in an ice cave from the film Elsa. That increased the claustrophobia in me, as well as anxiety.

We finally arrived on Christmas Eve in Big Rapids. We picked up my brother Vas from his trailer with an enormous flood light in Roger’s Heights.

Mom had the festive supper ready ahead of time. The Czech traditional fare for Christmas Eve is mushroom or fish soup, fried fish and potato salad. And of course traditional Czech pastries. The only choice of fish back in Czech homeland was carp.

wpid-wp-1423063976918.jpeg
Czech homeland

We opened presents and all I could think of was if I could go to bed. Dad turns on TV and there’s the Rumanian revolution. I just have escaped one, the Velvet Revolution. I participated in it on frigid town squares including Wenceslas Square in Prague. I shouted along with two million other people:

“Havel na hrad.”

That translates as, “Havel for president or Havel to the castle.”

I finally laid in bed thinking about all of this.

“What’s ahead of me?”

My husband received immigration visa to Montreal, Canada. I had to make decisions again what to do, “Stay or leave?”

We moved to Montreal and we lived in that great cosmopolitan city for three years. In 1993 we returned to Michigan. I took journalism classes at the Grand Rapids Community College.

In 1995, we built a house outside of Lowell in Vergennes Township and that sealed it for us.

Traditional Czech Christmas pastries.
Traditional Czech Christmas pastries.

The details of all of this are in my memoir “Greenwich Meridian” that I have to complete. It is my goal to pick it back up in January 2016 and to finish our story.

I wish happy holidays to all.

 

Copyright © 2015 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Monsanto loses Europe

The power of organized masses

I have many times in my life experienced the power of organized masses in demonstrations and revolutions like the Velvet Revolution in 1989 that brought two million people to the Wenceslas Square in Prague. That was the end of communism.

Now, I am witnessing the power of people again in the long drawn out fight against genetically modified (GMO) seed giant Monsanto based in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA. Based on protests, trials, court cases and demonstrations, the company lost all of Europe, except for Czech Republic, Spain and Portugal. Most recent demonstrations took place on May 25th in 436 cities around the world, 250 in the US. Meanwhile we were being fed information on major networks about a fire on a cruise ship with a firefighter on it.

This is an excerpt from an article by colleague Nils Mulvad from Investigative Reporting Denmark titled “GMO lose Europe-victory for environmental organizations.”

Monsanto will halt production of genetically modified corn in all of Europe, except Spain, Portugal and Czech republic. The agribusiness multinational states not to spend any more money on trials, development, marketing, court cases or anything else to get GM corn accepted in Europe.