Mikhail Gorbachev & 1989: Year of Revolutions Sebastian Plester Giraldo Santiago Villegas Giraldo Alejandro Montoya Morales
Mikhail Gorbachev was born on March 2nd of 1931 in the village of Privolnoye, Krasnogvardeisky District, Stavropol Territory, in the south of the Russian republic. He had a very tough childhood under the Totalitarian government of Joseph Stalin. He saw tough times during the World War II, during which Stavropol (USSR – now-a-days Russia) was occupied by German troops in 1942. Mikhail Gorbachev
After leaving school at the age of 16, he was awarded the ‘Order of the Red Banner of Labor’ in 1947. This helped him to gain a place at the Moscow University in 1950, where he studied law. While in Moscow, he became a candidate member of the Communist Party of Soviet Union in the same year. Later, he became First party Secretary of the Stavropol Kraikom position. In 1974, he was made a representative to the Supreme Soviet Court and the Chairman of the Standing Commission on Youth Affairs. His political career moved upward very fast.
Mikhail Gorbachev was elected general secretary of the Communist Party on 11th March 1985, and during the period of 1985 to 1989 he implemented several economic reforms that, he hoped, would improve the country economy and working productivity. Five years after being elected as the general secretary, on 15th March 1990, Gorbachev was elected as the first executive President of the Soviet Union. While Gorbachev’s political initiatives were positive for freedom and democracy of the Soviet Union, the economic policy of his government brought the country close to disaster. By the end of 1980s, there were shortages of basic food supplies that led to a limited supply of food distributed to citizens. He also had to deal with nuclear weapons issues, specially negotiating with the United States. The USSR, under the lead of Gorbachev, gained recognition as a powerhouse and Superpower, along with USA.
1989: Year of Revolutions Many countries in Eastern Europe were under control of the Soviet Union since 1945. In 1989, the USSR decided that they would never again use force to control these countries. People were tired of communism and by the end of that year it collapsed in Eastern Europe because of all the revolutions developed in this zone. There were revolutions in Hungary, Poland, East Germany (Berlin), Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia.
In May, the Hungarian government took down the wire fence that separated them from noncommunist Austria. In a historic session from October 16 to October 20, the parliament adopted legislation providing for multi-party parliamentary elections and a direct presidential election. The legislation transformed Hungary from a People's Republic into the Republic of Hungary, guaranteed human and civil rights, and created an institutional structure that ensured separation of powers among the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government.
Poland In April 1989, the trade union Solidarity was again legalized and allowed to participate in parliamentary elections on June 4, 1989. The victory of Solidarity surpassed all predictions. Solidarity candidates captured all the seats they were allowed to compete for in the Sejm, while in the Senate they captured 99 out of the 100 available seats. A new non-Communist government, the first of its kind in the former Eastern Bloc, was sworn into office in September 1989.
On October 7, Gorbachev visited East Berlin and told the people to take democracy if they want. Two days later there was a march of 100.000 people in East Leipzig calling for elections. On October 18, Honecker was forced to resign and was replaced by Egon Krenz, who said that people were free to travel to the west if they wanted. On November 9, thousands of people went to the wall and demanded to be let through to West Berlin. Hundreds climbed onto the wall and began to hack it to pieces. This was no longer a divided city.
On November the communist leader in Bulgaria resigned and was replaced by Todor Zhivkov. Later, demonstrations on ecological issues were staged in Sofia, and these soon broadened into a general campaign for political reform. The Communists reacted by deposing the decrepit Zhivkov and replacing him with Petar Mladenov, but this gained them only a short respite. In February 1990 the Communist Party, forced by street protests gave up its claim on power and in June 1990 the first free elections since 1931 were held.
The "Velvet Revolution" was a non-violent revolution in Czechoslovakia that saw the overthrow of the Communist government. On November 17, 1989, riot police suppressed a peaceful student demonstration in Prague. That event sparked a series 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 previous day to an estimated half-million. A two-hour general strike, involving all citizens of Czechoslovakia, was successfully held on November 27.