Sunday, November 06, 2016

How I Escaped Transylvanian Vampirism To The West

Vivid memoirs of

My Escape
from Transylvania to the World
the Romanian Gulag to Modern Cultures and Globalization 
Magdalena Lazín


I was born in Transylvania,
Northern Romania, in a town named Satu M.
I grew up like Alice in
Wonderland; among intellectual’s children, and also cute, lovely, and many
Gypsy children whom I taught the Romanian language, pretty early in life,
starting in 1st and second grade. We had a tough life, and our parents
were always working ‘til late hours at night. My brother Alex, and I were
reading late at night, waiting for mom, Magdalena to turn off the lights, as
she continued working at home in accounting. She was compounding the lengths and
width of the wooden logs that were heading to Russia year by year. And she let
us play all day long to our heart’s content. So unique, and we felt so free
exploring nature in Sighet.
In 1973, at age 10 as a fifth grader in Transylvania’s
isolated town of Sighet[2],  I had
to make a fateful decision about my choice of foreign-language study: Russian
or English. The pressure was on us to take up Russian, thus proving that we
were all students loyal to the dictator Socialist” Nicole Ceausescu’s “Socialist
Government” (read Romanian Communism allied with Moscow), but consciously I
detested that system.
I wanted to learn English, I did not then how fateful that choice would be
until 1991, when at almost 27 years of age, I met Jim Wilkie who had been
advised by his brother Richard to include my town of Sighet in his journey to
assess the how Eastern Europe was faring after the fall of the “Berlin Wall,”
short for the long wall that kept the people of Communist countries locked and
unable to escape. But more later about how Jim found me as he sought an
English-speaking intellectual and social
guide to Eastern Europe.
In the
meantime, growing up in Sighet with a population of only 30,000 people, we were
proud to recognize Eliezer "Elie"
(born 1928) as our
most prominent citizen long before he won the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. He helped
us get past the terrible history of Sighet Communist Prison where “enemies of
the state” were confined until “death due to natural cause.”
In my early
years I had a hard time understanding how the green and flowered valley of
Sighet (elevation 1,000 feet, on the Tisa River at the foot of our forested Carpathian Mountains) could be so beautiful, yet we lived under the terribly cruel eye of
the Securitate to protect from the people the wretched Dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. Ceausescu,[3]
who ruled from 1965 to his execution in 1989, was the harshest leader of all
the countries behind Russia’s Wall against Western Europe.
Oddly enough,
in the
of the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, supposedly I
living the “Golden Age of Romanian Socialism,” but even to myself as a young
student, I could see that the  promised
“full progress”
clearly a lie. Most adults agreed but feared to speak so bluntly.
the “English-Speaking USA” had been  supposedly always threatening to invade
Romania, I continued to study English language and literature. That I chose to
study English even though the act alone brought suspicion on me because all society
was taught to believe  since 1945 that we
were fighting off the Great Satin USA.[4]
America was officially seen as a threat to Romania and it allies under Russia’s
all of which I became only fully aware as I grew older and had to buy the English
Course textbooks on the risky, expensive Black Market.
In the meantime, without rarely granted permission,
we were forbidden to meet and visit with foreigners, especially those who spoke
English and who wanted to hear from us about  Sighet and its nearby wooden hamlets of the
Maramures Province, where I have my first
memories. The region is ethnically diverse, with a stimulating climate ranging
from very hot summers and very cold winters. Geographically, we lived in the
valleys and Mountains of Gutinul through which the rivers of Iza and Tisa flow.
Geographically, the beautiful forested Tisa River is the natural border with
Southern Ukraine.
As folklore has it in the West, vampires are
native to Transylvania. We had vampires, werewolves, and wolverines, but all
the mythological characters were actually members of the Communist Party, which
everyone had to join--except for me because with my knowledge, I was considered
a security risk!
Fortunately, when in 1982 I entered the University Babes
in Cluj-Napoca, to
earn my M.A. in 1990, for my sociology classes, I decided to conduct my field
research project into the rural life of the North of Romania, recording the folklore
(especially myths) invented  and passed
down by rural folks (including small merchants, farmers, fisherman, loggers)
had had used that lore to help them survive for centuries.
Further , much of my research conducted among the outlying farmers, delved
deeply into Transylvania Folklore, which prepared me well to understand
Communist Party Lore.
Thus, for the second time, my fateful choice of a
field research project had further prepared me, unknowingly, for my future with
Jim Wilkie.      
Once I had been admitted to the Babes Bolyai University,
which was called “the heart and brain of Transylvania,” I also further expanded
my deep studies in American language and literature. Also I studied Romanian
language and literature in the Department of Philology. The Boyali University
Is considered the best University in Transylvania.
Upon beginning my mentoring for other students, I
was happy to find a sense of freedom. Reading and writing comprehension were my
forté during my four years at Cluj.  I had
always dreamt of being a professor and a writer and seemed to be off to a great
But I soon realized that our professors opened
the day by reading the mounds of new Decrees just signed by Ceausescu.  Thus, I began laughing, and other students
join me in mocking the wooden language of Central Planning’s attempt to
befuddle us with words from a wooden language, totally bent toward twisting our
brains into confused submission. Professors and Securitate officers were acting
as sweaty bureaucrats trying to teach us how to sharpen our mental images . Not
one professor asked us, “What do each of you really think of all this Ceausescu
propaganda of decrees harming the educational process?”               
Professors had their favorite students and made
sure they pointed this out in class, stifling any competition as they show
openly their favoritism or nepotism.
When I reached the age of 22 in1985, I started to
be argumentative, criticizing professors, especially the history professor who
only knew only the History of the Romanian Communist Party.
Further, as a woman in academia, I began to
resent being forced to do the military service. The Russians, having been
directing Romanian politicians since 1945, pressured the Romanians to dig
useless trenches as well as learn to disassemble and assemble the AK47!
The atmosphere was dreadful in
classes. Restrictions were plentiful and absurd. Speech was not free; one
couldn’t discuss issues freely in class, or make any real analysis or debate.
One had to regurgitate what the professors were telling us. Modern economics led
by and read whatever was there in the old books stacked in the communist
library. Until I escaped Romania in 1992, I learned that the so-called
economics classes we took taught nothing about money, credit, and such terms as
GDP. The Marxian economics involved only
fuzzy nonsensical slogans such as “We Romanians
have to fight-off the ‘running dogs of capitalism,” without the word “capitalism”
ever being defined except in unrealistic theory laced with epithets.
 Even as an English major, I could not speak
with to foreigners in English --answering one question was a crime, according
to the tendentious Security Decrees. Abortion was a crime punishable for up to 20
years in prison. Doctors performing it ended up in jail, and so did the
pregnant women. Punishments were ridiculous—the Anti-Abortion Law lasted for 40
years, until 1990.
Furthermore if my uncle from Canada
visited us, we were all under surveillance, the entire family. Even today, in
2016 one has to report to the police to declare if any visitor of  family comes from the USA (or Canada, for some
bizarre security reason). Well after 25 years, not much has changed in poor
In the meantime, the History of Transylvania weighed
heavily on population of Romania, with constant change in the emerging
political map always have left “citizens” always lost about who was really in
Thus, Transylvania was originally part of the Dacian Kingdom between
82 BC until the Roman conquest in 106 AD. The capital of Dacia was destroyed by
the Romans, so that a new as capital would serve the Roman Province of Dacia,
which lasted until 350 AD, by which time the Romans felt so hated that it behooved
them withdraw back to Rome.
      During the
late 9th century, western Transylvania was conquered by the Hungarian Army to
later became part of the Kingdom of Hungary and in 1570  to devolve into the Principality of Transylvania.
During most of the 16th and 17th centuries, the Principality became an Ottoman
Empire vassal state, confusingly also governed by the Habsburg Empire.
After 1711 Transylvania
was consolidated solely into the Hapsburg Empire and Transylvanian princes were
replaced with Habsburg imperial governors.
After 1867,
Transylvania ceased to have separate status and was incorporated into the Kingdom
of Hungary as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.[6]
World War I, Transylvania reverted in 1918 to be part of Romania.  In 1940 Northern Transylvania again became
governed by Hungary and then Germany, but Romanian queen Maria successfully
reclaimed it after the end of World War II.
The year 1940 was important for Romania because if
was seized for its oil by Nazi Germany (1940-1944), “liberated” by the “Soviet
Union” (1944-1947), and finally “re-liberated” to become the Popular republic
of Romania (under USSR remote control), as the Cold War was beginning to freeze
the Iron Curtain into place.
At the
end of World War II while the USSR and its Red Army were the occupying powers
in all Romania, in 1947 Romania forcibly and ironically became a “People’s
Republic” (1947–1989), after the rise of the Iron Curtain.
The first “president,” Gheorghiu-Dej (1947) ruled as
puppet of Moscow, but when he died, his Secretary General  of the Communist Party of Romania, Nicolae
Ceausescu, was elected as the second “president” (1965-1989), shifting his
savage dictatorship into a harsher Romanian “Gulag” than known in the USSR.
For two decades I neither understood the dimensions
of tragic history of Transylvania, did I understand that I would have to escape
the Gulag of Romania by the “skin of my teeth.”
For peoples of the world Transylvania seems to be a
far away place, where most people know the werewolves and vampires have been
“seen” to in the imagination of Transylvanians, whose beliefs was soaked in
mystical folklore. Even today it is hardly possible to have a rational
conversation with most the Transylvanian folk on any subject without recourse
to try to understand where their distorted imagination has befuddled them.
      The population has consisted of Romanians,
Hungarians,  Germans, and some Ukrainians.
These languages are still being spoken in Romania’s Maramures province, but because
I always liked and loved the Romanian language,  I decided to become a Professor of Romanian
Language and Literature.
I later told
Jim how I had been admitted in 1982 to the Babes-Boyali University,  in Cluj-Napoca at the heart of Transylvania, I
focused especially on Linguistics. Unfortunately, there  I found that the professors, who were under
the control of sweaty Securitate officers, had to read dozens of new Decrees issued
every day as they sought to control every one of our daily actions—all in the
name of protecting the Ceausescu government—which was selling the country’s
food supplies to Russia in order to pay down Roman’s official debt at our
experts. Those Securitate officers ate well and ominously watched us virtually
starve. They said, be calm like your parents in the face of starvation.
 Thus, I furiously called out in my classes
that our very existence was being compromised by Ceausescu's abandonment of the
population, which was ordered to, as Lenin famously said, “work, work, work.”
protect myself as best I could, I turned to humor , seeking to ridicule
Ceausescu’s “national paradise.”  But
when I  encouraged my classmates to laugh
at the propaganda embedded in the wooden language of the national bureaucracy,
I soon fell under the heavy scrutiny of university authorities, who were
furious that I trying to expose the fact that all classes had been organized to
befuddle the student body into confused submission. Indeed, each professor had
favorite students to help drown out legitimate questions and stifle any competing
analysis—the university lived under nepotism, favoritism, the threat of rape
(virtual and real) by the Securitate officers, and open bribery--choose your
garden   variety.
By 1986,
at age 23, I had decided to flee Romania—an illegal act because Ceausescu did
not want anyone (especially women of child-bearing age) to escape his plan to
building his “ideal socialist industries” on farms and ranches as well as in
the cities. In June I made my way to the border of Yugoslavia and paid a
smuggler to evade the Romanian security forces that were preventing the “nations
workers” from escaping. The smuggler, who took me across the border, turned out
to be working for Romanian Border Police. Thus, soon after crossing into
Yugoslavia, he turned his wagon around and I was again in Romania again when I
realized what had happened too late. I had been “sold” to Ceausescu’s minions
for a wagon load of salt.
That failed
escape from Romania led me to a 10-month prison sentence in Timisoara Prison,
wherein the block cells
were maintained so cold (supposedly to eliminate bacteria and
viruses) that it made all of us inmates sick with the cold and the flu.
Cell bed blankets were
less warm than one Kleenex tissue. Moreover there were no pillow, and the
concrete slab where inmates slept was a back-breaker. The lights were on 24
hours a day, blinding all of us, and there was constant observation. Every hour
one was awakened to be counted, all under the guise of watching out for
suicides. But everyone could be clearly seen by the guards, and there was no
need to sleep-deprive inmates. There was also someone in the higher echelon
ripping off the food budget to siphon money to themselves while serving inmates
only baby carrots and spicy beans.
Almost every family in
Romanian civil society had at least one member who had been imprisoned for
trying to open the political system by denouncing the Ceausescu dictatorship. These
inmates were openly called “Political Prisoners,” and I was one of them.
Political Prisoners were
not permitted to work outside the prison walls in the fields because our crime
had been the political decision to have repudiated Ceausescu’s “fantastic system.”   
Once free in 1987, I could return to my University
to finally complete my M.A. in 1990.   
 Further in 1987, at the age of 24, I met the
Family patriarch Nicolae Pipas,[7]
who directed for the Communist government the walled Regional Art Museum in a
quiet part of Sighet. Being one of the few highly educated persons who spoke
English  in the region, I began to serve
as interpreter/guide to visiting foreign Ambassadors permitted to travel in
Romania. They wanted to see the Museum with its magnificent collection of paintings,
sculptures, and rare historical pottery and coins. Thus, I soon found myself
translating for visiting English-Speaking Ambassadors from many countries who
wished to know Transylvania, especially my village Sighet and its Merry
Cemetery famous worldwide for it tombstones in the form of wood sculpture of
the butcher, the baker, candlestick maker, and all professions.
Although my first languages were Romanian and
Hungarian, I could also translate into French and Italian. Indeed at that time
I was teaching Latin in the Rural School System of my Maramures Province.
 By 1989, Ceausescu realized that his end was
near, and he sought to gain support by pardoning his political prisoners (such
as myself) who had tried to escape the horrendous conditions in the country.
Hence, university students and some labor unions joined  forces and quite quickly after the Fall of
the Berlin Wall forced Ceausescu and his draconian wife Elena to flee. They
were caught and executed on Christmas Day, 1989, by the military that at the
last moment joined the Revolution.
As my
friends and I (along with most of the population) cheered the fall of the
failed, rotten Romanian “dictatorship of the proletariat,” my dear mother acted
differently. She was so confused by the propaganda of the only “leader” she knew
much about that she wept for Ceausescu, not fully realizing that he was the one
who had wrongly had be arrested and put me in prison. 
Ceausescu gone, in 1990 I was able to secure a passport to ready myself to leave
Romania by gaining visas for Germany and France. The question remained, how to
get there by land without a visa to Austria—my region had no air connection to
the outside world.
Almost age 27 in 1991, I was in the right place at
the right time when UCLA Professor Jim Wilkie arrived in Sighet September 17th
with Professor James Platler (his friend and driver). They came as part of
their trip to assess the impact of the 1989 Fall of Iron Curtain--which had
imprisoned all Romanians and made it a crime to try to escape from Romania. The
two Americans had already visited “East” Germany,
and Slovakia (soon to break their union, each becoming independent), and
Poland, where English speakers could provide guidance.
In Romania the UCLA Team found itself at a loss as few of the people
who they encountered could speak English and none of them could analyze or
articulate how the System of Government and society functioned before and after
       When we met,
Jim immediately contracted[9]
with me to advise them as well as guide them through Eastern Europe. They were
pleased to hear the my outline of Transylvanian and Romanian history (see
above), with which I explained how constant national boundary change meant that
Transylvanians and Romanians were never able to develop either honest civil government or active civic society. Little did I know that the concepts of “Civic”
and “Civil” Society were of utmost importance to Jim. As I would find out
later, Jim and I had been conducting compatible research for years and would lead
me to (A) my PHD Dissertation and (B snd C) two books written with Jim .[10]
All these works  distinguish  between the concepts of Civil Society (which represents national and local governmental
activity and Civic Society (which involves active private citizens (who
organize non- governmental initiatives to develop model projects beyond the
ability of official bureaucrats to even comprehend, including the influence
needed to monitor and expose the failures and successes of governmental
before we left September 18th to visit Romania and Hungary, I had to
find a substitute for my new class teaching American English and History in
Sighet—I left a friend, Johny Popescu, to become my permanent substitute. Only
then could our newly expanded Team set off under my guidance.
Thus, we
set out on  September 18, 1991, to visit
one of the most socially and economically interesting and beautiful parts of
Romania by going up thought the green forested Carpathian Mountains via the
beautiful Prislop Pass, stopping to visit small farming families in their folkloric
clothing of which they were justifiably proud to wear on a daily basis.
 Farther east in Romania, on the scenic roads, we visited the monasteries of
Moldova, the town of Cumpulung Moldovenesc, Suceava, and then the  Monasteries
in Sucevita and Agapia. The gorgeous forested mountain road eventually led
to Lacul Rosu and the lake country. Then we took the long scenic mountain road
to  Cluj Napoca to visit my University.
As I
briefed Jim about Romania, he was briefing me about factors in comparing
national economies. For example, he told me about how he had reunited in Prague
on September 15th with Richard Beesen, his former
UCLA student and friend, to hear about his role in
London as Manger of D
eutsche Bank’s New Accounts in
Russia and Eastern Europe. Richard had become famous for inviting Banking
Officials and national Treasury Ministries to deposit their financial reserves
on deposit in his bank in London. But because those who did not understand
anything about “interest payment on deposited funds, they did not ask for nor
did they gain any interest payments. Also, because most Western Banks were not
sure that these new “capitalists” could be “fully trusted” for correct
management of their deposits, his D
eutsche Bank collected
large fees to keep the Eastern Europe reserves safe. This was all very
eye-opening for me.
Jim  and I had realized early on that we had an
close affinity as we analyzed the situation of Romania, and he said “call me
Jim.” (In contrast I called  Professor James
Platler  “JP.”) As we traveled to observe
the situation of the people in different parts of the country, Jim and I formed
a deep bond of observing and analyzing; thus both of realized this brief
interlude had to continue for the long term in order to achieve our goals.
a Romanian, I had the right to enter Hungary, and we did so by-passing the
miles of vehicles waiting to cross the border for the long drive to Budapest.
There JP finally relaxed after the long drives and often poor hotels and hotels—he
said that he finally found unbroken civilization again.
    Once we arrived in Budapest, JP, who had
told Jim privately that from the outset of our trip that he thought that I was
a “Spy” (planted on us by the Romanian Securitate to monitor our many “foreign”
inquiries during our travel through Romania’s north country), announced that
his concern about me had vanished as we realized the extent of my knowledge and
research abilities.   In his mind, I  had to be a Spy because I had obtained access to
special private dining rooms and quarter in some fine hotels, as well as
invitations for wonderful lunches at some Monasteries, where miraculously I
made immediate friends with each Mother Superior. But by the time we reached
Budapest, he realized that at my University I had learned the Elite skills
needed to survive safely and comfortably in Eastern Europe. 
problem was to enter Austria, where I had no visa. But Jim passed his
UCLA business card through to the Consul General of
Austria in Budapest, and quickly we found ourselves whisked from the back of
the long line to the front and right into a meeting with the Consul General himself.
He was pleased to hear about the research of our
UCLA Team, but said that I did have a visa. Jim then
told them that I only needed a three-day transit visa to reach Germany, the
visa for which he could see in my passport.
entry to Austria solved, we were on the road to the Hotel Kobentzl and Graz, which
overlook Salzburg, all the way analyzing the comparative economic and social
situations of Austria, Hungary, and Romania.
We  spent most of our time down the mountain from Kobentzl
in the valley, before returning to our sweeping Hotel view of Salzburg City.
Meanwhile I was deepening my questions about capital is leveraged to undertake
big private projects. As we took photos over from on high looking down on the
many bridges of Salzburg  and Jim was explaining
how the developed world operated by using finances, credit, and interest to
help economies grow.
we left Salzburg to enter Germany and Munich, where our quick look into
Oktoberfest found us among nasty drunken louts each of whom seemingly had hand
four hands: one to chug-a-lug beer; one to smoke foul smelling cigarettes; one
to quaff horrible-bleeding-raw sausages; and one to punch someone in the face. From
what we saw, Oktoberfest was a place for nasty males seeking to “get smashed on
beer” and then smash another male to break his nose. Thus, we fled for our
lives as the brutes began to threaten anyone who looked at them.
Then on
September 30th, I took the plane to from Munich to Paris to take a
bus to Bordeaux to meet the family which had invited me to France.
Jim (and
JP) also left the same day for Jim in arrive in time to go from the airplane to
open and begin teaching his Fall Quarter class at
UCLA. But he promised to call daily and return to join
me again in ten weeks.
In the
meantime, I made a trip to Paris to request political asylum in France, but a
grey-faced judge rejected my request, saying that the petitioner must file with
the help of a lawyer.  
To complicate
matters in Bordeaux, the French Security Agent there was investigating me, a
lone woman, as a possible SPY sent by Romania to “monitor activities at the
Port of Bordeaux. When he told that, if I pleased him in unmentionable ways, he
would not deport me to Romania but arrange my legal status in France, I
immediately told Jim on his next telephone call.
      To resolve our problem, Jim called his Paris
friend Gérard Chaliand, a former visiting professor at
UCLA, whose real job involved traveling the world for
French Security to report on his professorial travels that took him to all
continents. Gérard immediately called French Security to report on the illegal
approach to me by their  Agent in
Bordeaux. That same day the Agent came to apologize profusely to me in the best
manner that he could muster in his pitiful condition. He begged me not to have
him fired for his proposition to me. I could see him looking at me in truly
puzzled way that implicitly said: “Who are you? How did I make such a grave
mistake in deciding that you, a lone Romanian women could not have any power to
reach my bosses in Paris?” I took pity on him and told him that if he minded
manners and watched from affair to be sure that I was always safe, he would not
be fired.
though it was December 11, 1991, when Jim returned, France was in
the midst what some in America call an “Indian Fall,” warm with colorful Fall
leaves still on the trees.  It was a
beautifully bright “Fall day” when we left Bordeaux the next day to spend some
days visiting the Loire River with its many castles and incredible views.
during our photography of the Loire region, Jim began to outline his New Plan
(now our plan) to wit:
PROFMEX Plan to Help Eastern
European “Foundations”    
                 become legally eligible to gain
grants from                                         U.S.
Tax Exempt Foundations following Jim’s
            “U.S.-Mexico Model for Philanthropy.”
Indeed, Jim
told me that recently when he had been in Mexico City, he received an
invitation to meet with Manuel Alonso Muñoz, Executive Director of Mexico’s
National Lottery,[11] who
when he heard about Jim’s U.S.-Mexico Model, invited him to meet at the
Lottery’s historically famous ornate building. After an extended briefing by
Jim, Manuel told him that he had already called his own good friend Ronald G.
Hellman, Professor of Sociology in the Graduate School at the City University
of New York, to ask him for an evaluation of
Jim and  his Mexico-U.S. Model for
Philanthropy. Ironically, it was only then when he realized that Ron was (and
is today) Jim’s PROFMEX Vice-President for Strategic Planning. With that news
and Jim’s stellar briefing, Lic. Alonso asked if the Lottery could make a
series of generous grants to PROFMEX in order to help fund the expansion of
Jim’s Model to Eastern Europe, [12]putting
Mexico into an innovative new light.
Manuel Alonso
was appreciative of the fact that Jim, while serving as Consultant to the U.S. Council
on Foundations, had become involved since 1990 with his Model for helping Mexican
Foundations (including, for example, charities, human rights organizations,
hospitals, universities, biospheres, etc.) to re-write their constitution and
by-laws to be compatible with the U.S. tax requirement that they mirror U.S. Not-for-Private Profit Organizations (NPPOs).
question of “mirroring” involved Jim’s explanation that:
NPPOs, U.S. Foundations are legally responsible for controlling expenditure of
funds granted to organizations that do not mirror the U.S. foundations do not
want to be involved in the day-to-day activities of its grantees. Indeed, “
they want to transfer “expenditure responsibility” (including misuse or illegal
use of grant funds) to the recipient foundation to which they grant funds but
can only do so if the grant recipient organization is deemed to have an
“equivalent” legal structure to that of the U.S. donor foundation.
Here is the background, according
to Jim: [13]
“In order to facilitate the U.S. philanthropic activity needed during the 1970s
and 1980s to help speed world development, the U.S. Secretary of Treasury and
the IRS formulated provisions that resulted in changing and/or interpreting the
Internal Revenue Code  (IRC) to freely
permit U.S. foundations to grant funds abroad, if they meet the following
special proviso:
U.S. NPPOs can themselves make a
legal “determination” that the foreign organization receiving the U.S. grant be
“determined” to be “equivalent” to an NPPO described in Section 501(c)(3)[14] of
the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.” 
Jim pointed out that, “while this proviso has worked well for big U.S. grant-making
foundations that place costly offices and staff around the world (such as
Rockefeller and Ford Foundations), it has worked less well for foundations that
have had to send their lawyers to meet with their legal counterparts in
prospective ‘equivalent organizations, the legal cost of making such a
determination often reaching $25,000 [or, by 2016, much, much more] for each
new organization to receive funds from the U.S. NPPO. If that determination is
favorable, the U.S. NPPO can transfer funds to the equivalent organization,
just as it can to any other approved U.S. NPPO, and along with the transfer of
funds to the donee goes the transfer of responsibility over how the funds are
of ‘Expenditure Responsibility’ from the
Donor NPPO to the Foreign Recipient NPPO
The ability of U.S. NPPOs to avoid costly expenditure
responsibility, as Jim told, is one of the factors that has helped make American
grant-making foundations so important in the world. Thus, U.S. NPPOs have been enabled
to avoid becoming ensnarled in accounting processes and audits, which are
better done by the foreign organization that receives and administers the U.S.
NPPO grant of funds.
In this manner, said Jim, the U.S.
NPPO is free to focus its energy on evaluating the substance of its grant
programs. The ability of grant-making foundations to transfer Expenditure
Responsibility to other NPPOs is the main reason that they generally prefer
(and require) that their funds be granted only to approved organizations rather
than to individuals or to non-approved organizations.
The above views, Jim said, do not
mean that U.S. NPPOs are unable to grant funds to an organization that is not
equivalent to a U.S. NPPO (or make grants to individual scholars, artists, or
writers either at home or abroad), but to do so adds a complication to the
grant-making process. Rather than passing on the Expenditure Responsibility (as
the U.S. NPPO does when it makes grants to another NPPO or U.S. equivalent),
the Expenditure Responsibility remains with the donor NPPO when it makes a
grant to an organization that is not an NPPO (or its U.S. equivalent) or to an
         In the unlikely case where the donor
NPPO retains Expenditure Responsibility, then, Jim told m in my interview with
him on September 17, 1991, the donor foundation has to concern itself with
costly financial oversight involved, which may problematic whether of in or
outside the USA.
MEET WITH      NPPO LEADERS ABOUT                                                         NEW
        Jim and I arrived in Paris on December 15,
1991, to meet with Jim’s contacts at the American Embassy, who heard about our
research and suggested that Jim meet also with their counterparts at the U.S.
Embassy in Mexico City. They agreed to help begin to our new Plan to expand to
Eastern Europe and Russia Jim’s successful Model for Tax-Free Flow of Nonprofit
Funds, the example being what he negotiated (with the U.S. Council on Foundations
and the U.S. and Mexican Treasury Departments), as  analyzed above.
      It is important
for me to say here that George Soros and his decentralized donations to his 41 semi-autonomous
“national  foundations”[15] (exemplified
in Romania, Hungary, and Russia) have been built following the IRS proviso and
regulations discussed above. Also, Soros’ “National Foundations” require that
national Government charter the independent role as NGOs.
contrast, the flowering of thousands of  independent “Foundations” in Eastern Europe since
1989 has grown from groups looking for funds from the many U.S. Foundations
that do not have the Soros/New York link with its Foundations in many nations,
all of which operate in Soros’ closed loop. Few of these new Foundations have
the Soros knowledge and financial resources
to set up the By-Laws and Legal Status needed for the thousands
Foundations desiring to tap into funding by U.S. Foundations.[16]  However, since 2013, Soros’ has organized an
office to work with shared Global Funds (for food, migration, etc.) outside the
non-Soros frameworks to help poor areas and countries to stave off crises.
Before we left Paris on
December 19, 1991, we met with Gérard Chaliand to  personally thank him for having made the
Bordeaux Security agent reexamine his whole approach to his life.
Further, with Gérard, we
worked out a plan to arrange for me to become a U.S. resident and obtain U.S.
citizenship nine years after my arrival in Los Angeles, October 1992. He
recommended that my case by handled in In Los Angeles by one of America’s most knowledgeable
and effective Migration Attorneys—Cynthia Juárez Lange, today
Managing Partner, Northern
California, for the  Fragomen Del Rey,
Bernsen & Loewy LLP Legal Office located in San Francisco. Cynthia is
a personable genius.
In our
travels in December 1991 and from March to June 1992 we met NPPO leaders in the
European Union to better understand how foundations work under unique laws in
each county rather than in any rational manner for the whole EU, we went to
Marseilles, Nice, Villfranche-sur-Mer, Cap-Ferrat, Monaco, La Rochelle, Andorra,
Soria, Madrid, Trujillo, El Escorial, Avila, and Segovia.
September 3. 1992, we arrived at the U.S. Consulate in Paris, where the U.S
Consulate in Mexico had arranged with Jim for my U.S. eligibility for residence
to be issued. Also, the Mexican Consulate General in Paris issued me my
residence papers to enter and leave Mexico freely, as arranged by Jim with the
Mexican Consular Office in Mexico City.
September 7, 1992, we were Romania for meetings with Civic Activists in Sighet
(where I finally returned after “escaped” with Jim in December 1991).
March to June, 1993, we met with NPPO leaders in Budapest, Sighet, and Varna (Bulgaria),
Bucharest, and St. Petersburg.
Moscow (June 21-14, 1993), Jim appointed Professor        Boris Koval
(Director of the Latin American Institute of the Russian Academy of
, to be PROFMEX Representative in Russia.  Koval had invited us to Moscow and introduced
us to his own Security Chief to be our translator and guide. Thus Security
Chief was a fascinating person who had been former head of the KGB Office in
Iran, 1979-1989.
Jim, who
always wore his Mexican guayabera shirt with or without a suit, was seen to be “authentically
Mexican” in our meetings and discussions about NPPOs and the Soros Open Society
Foundations in Russia success in Russia (1987-2002) and problems of the Soros
Foundations in Russia since 2003, when, under Government pressure, he was
phasing out of operation active programs.
(When on
November 30, 2015,
[17] Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office classified the
Soros Open Society Foundation as an “undesirable” organization, it closed the
possibility of Russian individuals and institutions from having anything to do
with any Soros initiative or programs… [because it constituted]
threat to the foundations of
Constitutional order and national security….
(Prosecutors [then] launched a probe into Soros
Foundation activities….[18] [and
in July 2015], after Russian senators approved the so-called “patriotic
stop-list” of 12 groups that required immediate attention over their supposed
anti-Russian activities, [the following U.S. organizations] realized that they
would soon be banned in Russia: [the U.S.] National Endowment for Democracy;
the International Republican Institute; the National Democratic Institute; the
MacArthur Foundation, and Freedom House.
(George Soros issued from London the following Press
Release on

November 30, 2015:
(Contrary to
the Russian prosecutor’s allegations, the Open Society Foundations have, for
more than a quarter-century, helped to strengthen the rule of law in
Russia and protect the rights of all. In the past, our efforts have been
welcomed by Russian officials and citizens, and we regret the changes that have
led the government to reject our support to Russian civil society and ignore
the aspirations of the Russian people.
(Since 1987, Open Society has
provided support to countless individuals and civil society organizations,
including in the fields of science, education, and public health. Open
Society has helped finance a network of internet centers in 33 universities
around the country, helped Russian scholars to travel and study abroad,
developed curricula for early childhood education, and created a network of
contemporary art centers that are still in operation.
(This record speaks for itself. We
are honored to have worked alongside pioneering citizens, educators, and civil
society organizations that embody Russian creativity, commitment, and hope.
(“We are confident that this move is a
temporary aberration; the aspirations of the Russian people for a better future
cannot be suppressed and will ultimately succeed,” said George Soros, founder
and chairman of the Open Society Foundations.)

     Back in
Mexico City for the 1994 PROFMEX Event featuring Eastern Europeans interested
in the U.S.-Mexico Model for NPPOs, we convened, July 28-29, for our
meeting on “Development of Mexico as
seen from the World,”
Co-sponsored by UCLA and Mexico’s Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología.
     This Conference was held at Mexico
City’s María Isabel Sheraton, with 70 participants from Mexico and the United
States, and which I co-organized with Jim
     The following invitees from Eastern Europe
came from
Zoltan Karpati, Professor of Sociology
Mihai Coman, University Dean
 Roman Romulus,
Consul General in Mexico
                   Alexandru Lazín, PROFMEX--
England and Romania
                   Lia Stan, Investor from
Sighet and London
     High lights of the event came frequently
as we turned our gaze from Salón A with his all-window view from the top floor
to discuss the anti-government protest marches up and down Reforma Avenue past
the Angel Monument below.
      Further, our group enjoyed the invitation
of Mexico’s Attorney General, Jorge Madrazo Cuéllar to visit him at his
headquarters where we personally discussed and raised questions about the
street blockages in front of our María Isabella Hotel.   

December 1997, we continued to invite world scholars especially interested in
economic matters, as well as in the U.S.-Mexico NPPO Model to participate with
us at the:
           IX PROFMEX-ANUIES Conference
hosted by Governor Víctor
Manuel Tinoco Rubí in Morelia, Michoacán.
  México y el Mundo
Mexico and the World
8-13, 1997
With hundreds of participants
and Attendees from all continents,
Special Guests were invited
Boris Koval, who recalled with excitement the visit of  
                                         Jim and I to Moscow in
June 1993.
China:                Sengen
Korea:                Kap-Young
Japan:                 Soichi Shinohara
                                             Osamu Nishimura
                                    Yasuoki Takagi
Indonesia:          Lepi
T. Tarmidi
        Eugenio O. Valenciano
Bolivia:               Antonio
J. Cisneros

Jim and I have been involved
with many academic activities, but those are beyond the scope of my analysis
here of Jim’s role in extending PROfMEX
around the globe, especially to Europe and Russia.
My courses
taken under Jim, and Prof Carlos Alberto Torres, Prof. Richard Weiss, and Ivan
T Berend, at
UCLA led me to the
   M.A. in Latin American Studies (1996)  and
                       PHD in History (2001)
  with publication of one of my books, as sole
La globalización se
Libre mercado,
fundaciones, sociedad cívica y gobierno civil en las regiones del mundo (2007)
Por Olga Magdalena Lazín.                      Prólogo de James W.

And the
second book, co-authored with James W Wilkie,book full of illustrations and
images that reflect my travels with Jim
La globalización se
amplia (2011)
Por James W. Wilkie y Olga
Magdalena Lazín.                                      Prefacio de Rafael Rodríguez Castañeda
With you Jim, I know that
much researching and writing awaits us in our projects around the world….
This work  (4 books we have
pblished) has shown how U.S. Tax Exempt Organization (TEO) law has evolved to
become the most important in the world owing to its flexibility. Where the laws
of most countries require prior legal authorization to launch in a new
direction,the United States TEo law recognizes no such limit. Thus, U.S. TEO
law, unlike most other countries, is never trying to make legal what is already
underway in the world. The USA and now Mexico, lvhich together have signed the
Decentralized Globaiizatton]. Free Markets, U.S. Foundations, And The
Rise of Civil and Civic Society From Rockefeller's latin i,merica To
Soros'Eastern Europe
Olga Magdalena Lazin,  Doctor in
University of California, Los Angeies, 2OO1
This work has shown how U.S. Tax Exempt Organization (TEO) Iaw has
evolved to become the most important in the world owing to its flexibility.
where the laws of most countries requlre prior legal authorization to launch in
a new direction, United States TEO law recognizes no such limit. Thus, U.S. TEO
law, unlike most other countries, is never trying to make legal what is already
underway in the world. The USA and now Mexico, which together have signed the
first Fair Trade agreement in 1994. A new Era is opening, where the
environment’s safety comes first, by the people, for the people of the earth.

To be continued:

My Brilliant Memoir
2010 Olga Lazin

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[1] Readers should be aware of a key acronym used when this
paper reaches the 1990s: NPPO stands
for Not-for-Private Profit Organization
(usually a Foundation) which differs from the more familiar (Non-Profit
Organization (NPO). Outside the
United States, the latter term tends to be wrongly understood to mean no profit
can be accumulated and the NPO must show a zero balance at year end. The former
term (NPPO) is developed here to stress that profits may be accumulated and
invested to fund future activities, as long as expenditures do not benefit
private parties (except for salaries, travel, and other justified expenses as
provided in, say, a Foundation’s by-laws.)

[2] Officially named Sighetu
(on Romania’s northwest border facing Ukraine’s
southwestern border with Romania and Hungary.

[3] In modernized spelling.

[4] As in the case of Oceania always being threatened by
eternal war alternating between Eurasia or
Eastasia, portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984  (1948).
Cf. my article “Orwell’s 1984 and
the Case Studies of Stalin and Ceausescu,”
in Elitelore Varieties (Edited by James Wilkie et al.):

(Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) dates from the January 1949
communiqué agreed upon in Moscow by the USSR (including  its 15 Constituent Republics of 
Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova,
Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan)
and its five “Independent” Satellite Republics (Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia,
Hungary, Poland, and Romania. The communiqué involved the refusal of all these
countries to "subordinate themselves to the dictates of the Marshall
Plan.”  Thus, they organized an “economic
cooperation” among  these “new peoples’
democracies.” (USSR born 1922, died 1991). Cf.:

[6] This
Empire existed between 1867 and 1918.

[7] Upon Ceausescu’s death, the Patriarch Pipas mysteriously
became the Museum’s “owner” and then transferred title to his son Valerian
Pipas, the regions most famous violinist

[8] “Czechia” is rarely used in English because native
English speakers too often do not know
intuitively know how to pronounce it. The name Czechia has
arisen as the short name for the Czech Republic, which emerged with the breakup
of “Czechoslovakia” in 1992. 

[9] Jim soon arranged for the contract to by paid from his
grant funds from U.S. foundations deposited for his projects sat

[10] See
(A) my 2001 Decentralized Globalization:
Free Markets, U.S. Foundations, and the Rise of Civil and Civic Society from
Rockefeller’s Rise in Latin America to Soros’ Eastern Europe
(Los Angeles: UCLAClassic
Doctoral Thesis, forthcoming at 
(B) Olga Magdalena Lazín, La Globalización Se Descentraliza: Libre Mercado, Fundaciones,
Sociedad Cívica y Gobierno Civil en las Regiones del Mundo,
Prólogo, pp.
15-166, por James W. Wilkie (Guadalajara
y Los Ángeles: Universidad de Guadalajara, UCLA Program on Mexico, PROFMEX/World,
Casa Juan Pablos Centro Cultural, 2007).
James W. Wilkie y Olga Magdalena Lazín, La globalización Se Amplia: Claroscuros
de los Nexos Globales  (Guadalajara, Los
Ángeles, México: Universidad de Guadalajara, UCLA Program on Mexico,
PROFMEX/World, Casa Juan Pablos Centro Cultural, 2011:

[11] Mexico’s National Lottery is
a Government-run Public Charity and funder of new research.

[12] The Lottery grants to PROFMEX totaled $100,000 dollars.

[13] Jim Wilkie’s statement here is quoted from my formal
Interview with him, September 17, 1992, in Transylvania, based upon his
experience as Consultant to the U.S. Council on Foundations. See:
Olga Magdalena Lazín, Decentralized Globalization: Free Markets,
U.S. Foundations and the Rise of Civil and Civic Society
From Rockefeller’s Latin America To Soros’ Eastern Europe
(Los Angeles: UCLA, Classic PHD thesis, 2001), pp. 122-125. This book
scheduled in 2016 for publication by PROFMEX at

“Equivalent,” as Jim noted, means that the foreign NPPO meets (A) the test of
funding at least one of the following goals” for types of projects supported Health-Education-Welfare-Human
Rights-Science and Religion-Economy-Environment-Ecology-Publication-Literature-Charity
and (B) meets the test that no part of the foreign NPPOs expenditures benefit
private persons-- except for payment of reasonable expenses to cover goods and
services needed by the NPPO to legitimately conduct the operations chartered in
its Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws.

by NGO Civic Activists in each country but reporting to Soros Foundation/New
York City to justify each yearly budget.

[16] The Soros Open Society Foundations in 44 countries
benefit from the fact that Soros himself has lived up to his commitment
since1986 (to 2016 and ongoing) to donate half of his profits ($13 billon) for
their activities, his personal wealth in 2016 estimated to be $25 billion. See
for the details of Soros $930.7 million dollar Open Society Foundations 2016 Budget, which can be found by
searching online for this title.

[18] Ibid.

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