An Alternative Illustration of the Consequences of a Butterfly Flapping its Wings
Source: John Simpson BBC News
The corrupt and brutal regime of President Ceausescu of Romania was infamous across the world. His ferocious government had run the country emphatically for many years, crushing any signs of dissent ruthlessly. In November 1989 he was re-elected President for another five years as his supporters at Party Conference gave him forty standing ovations.
On December 21st the President, disturbed by a small uprising in the western city of Timisoara in support of a Protestant Clergyman, was persuaded to address a public rally in Bucharest.
One solitary man in the crowd, Nica Leon, sick to death with Ceausescu and the dreadful circumstances he created for everyone started shouting in favour of the revolutionaries in Timasoara. The crowd around him, obedient to the last, thought that when he was shouting out ‘long live Timasoara!’ it was some new political slogan.
They started chanting it too. It was only when he called, ‘Down with Ceausescu!’ that they realised something wasn’t right. Terrified, they tried to force themselves away from him, dropping the banners they had been carrying. In the crush the wooden battens on which the banners were held began to snap underfoot and women started screaming. The ensuing panic sounded like booing.
The unthinkable was happening. Ceausescu stood there on his balcony, ludicrously frozen in uncertainty, his mouth opening and shutting. Even the official camera shook with fright. Then the head of security walked swiftly across the balcony towards him and whispered, ‘They’re getting in’. It was clearly audible on the open microphone and was broadcast over the whole country on live national radio.
This was the start of the revolution. Within a week Ceausescu was dead.