Where Glasnost Is Still a Dirty Word

In Rumania, Ceausescu's delusions of grandeur bleed the country and make life a backward march

On a sweltering summer afternoon, 200 people are gathered around a delivery van parked on a dusty side street in downtown Bucharest. The vehicle's doors swing open, and all 200 seem to surge forward at once. As six blue-uniformed militiamen armed with automatic weapons struggle to hold back the crowd, a salesclerk begins parceling out portions of a coveted commodity: frozen 1-lb. chunks of chicken gizzards, heads and feet. In minutes the meager supply is exhausted, and fistfights erupt among disappointed customers. Moments later the van drives off, and the throng disperses.

Under Nicolae Ceausescu, 70, Rumanians have long been subjected...

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