Pavol Cacara

* 1968  

  • “On Tuesday afternoon, we had a planned meeting of the Socialist Youth Union. It took place at the Jedlíková hall of residence which is the residence of the Technical University of Košice. It was a short meeting about the fact that something was happening. The meeting was the first source of information. However, it was run by our leader, assistant, and a full-on party man, and he was in no hurry to promote the Strike movement. After a short while, we wrapped it up. Right after, the meeting of the Strike Coordination Committee with the students was about to take place. I went there to get familiar with what was happening. The rest of the group went the other way. The first thing that stroke me as being absurd was the composition of the Strike Committee. Paradoxically, It consisted entirely of Socialist Youth Union members. It did not make any sense; why should these people lead the strike which was against them and against the philosophy they represented. The demand to cancel the leading role of the party was totally absent from the list which I peacefully objected to. After half an hour, I was elected the chairman of the Strike Committee. All of them, or the majority, were removed from the Committee. As a newly elected chairman of the Strike Committee, I attended the Coordination Committee meetings at all East Slovak Faculties where we fought about the future direction of our arguments. The typical paradox was when the Faculty of Law representatives argued that we cannot object to the constitution article which assigns the leading role to the party because that would be considered unconstitutional. Once again, two hours of heavy discussions followed. Discussions about not being on strike so that we could get more places at the residence hall and new windows. ‘That is not why we are on strike; you could have had that long ago,’ I had the need to say.”

  • ”The meeting of the East Slovak Coordination Committee ended late at night, around two. The next day before eight in the morning, the students from the faculty called me to come quickly because there was a meeting in one of the main lecture halls. The whole faculty, the pedagogical staff were there and it was all led by Mr. Gurský, the then leader of the school-wide party organization which, in terms of hierarchy, was similar to being a rector, perhaps even more. Maybe it was out of youth recklessness or maybe out of courage, but the first thing I did, after I got there and found out what people were up on the podium, was to tell Mr. Gurský that he might have mistaken the meeting with another one and that he would have to leave the podium. Afterward, I informed the attendees about being elected the chairman of the Student Strike Committee yesterday and, just to be sure, I got elected by the teachers who were there and all of those who wanted to join as well. Then, we informed the people about the demands of the federal committee. The one in Bratislava had their own demands and we read those of Košice as well, so as to cover it all.”

  • “Since my second year at grammar school, I had been a member of a folk group. So even as a student, at the end of grammar school, I went on tours and traveled West. It was always preceded by the process of approbation that one had to undergo to get the travel approval. When we were about to go on a tour to France, I was called in by the authorities to answer some questions. As there was a bit of a rebel inside of me, I took it lightly, as a fun. I acted as if I did not understand what they were asking me and what they wanted. On the other hand, how they handled the process was humorous. Even at that time, I have no doubt about it, there must have been someone amongst our group keeping an eye on the others, watching their behavior. Someone must have tipped off the comrades about approaching me. So that was the first-hand experience. In the morning, the bell rang, a man came and told me where should I report the next day. It was the regional headquarters of SNB (National Security Corps), the place where ŠtB (State Security) resided as well. They asked me whether someone had contacted me and wanted me to take something abroad. So I acted as If I did not know what they were asking, I mean, naturally, everyone was going to have a suitcase. He understood that he would not get far with me. Then he emphasized that we will meet again after the tour was over, but it never happened. The meeting took place in the entrance hall, so it was no interrogation and I did not sign anything. He just asked some questions, looked important, and that was about it.”

  • "I remember how we organized a march in the Main Street. At the end of the street, near the State Scientific Library, we met with the representatives of the Košice Civic Forum which was founded before the Public Against Violence (VPN). It was they who invited us. We agreed to coordinate our actions and dates, as it was not in our interest to proceed separately. It´s just that everything was happening so quickly; we were changing things on the go, and we had to improvise a lot. We did cooperate; we operated coordinately. They did not deal with what was happening in the schools but rather tried to address the people, plant facilities and factories. In those days, I traveled every week to Bratislava or to Prague with a stop in Bratislava on the way back. There were a lot of meetings. Essentially, the mandate was about how long we wanted the strike to last to maintain the atmosphere that would allow the changes to take place. Specifically, the change of the president and the change of the constitution. One by one, the steps were adopted at the national level of the student strike movement."

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We got democracy, more or less, without fighting for it. Now it is much harder to teach people that it is something to be valued

zdroj: pri ED natáčaní

Pavol Cacara was born in 1986 in Košice. There, he attended the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. During the November 1989, he was the chairman of the student strike committee at the Technical University of Košice and he communicated with the Košice branch of the Civic Forum. Up until 1992, he was a municipality representative for the city of Košice. Disappointed by the political developments, he decided to leave the politics after Vladimir Meciar‘s accession to power.