Lebanon: the wrath of back to the streets because of the economic crisis

Liban: la colère de retour dans les rues en raison de la crise économique

Protesters anti-power in Lebanon, have left aside their anger, in particular in Tripoli, in the north of the country, because of the deep economic crisis that has powered the fall of a powerful protest movement, and that continues to escalate into a full pandemic of the COVID-19.

A 26 year old young man was killed in the night of Monday to Tuesday, according to an organization of first responders in Tripoli, during violent clashes between the army and hundreds of protesters.

Scenes of urban guerrilla warfare continued until late in the night, in a city (the second largest in the country) invaded by the smoke of the tear gas, and where were gunshots, according to a videographer of the AFP.

Twenty people were injured, as were 40 soldiers, according to the army. The latter has announced that three banks had been burned, and that nine individuals were arrested for throwing rocks.

For several days now, Lebanon is experiencing a resurgence of tensions, and protesters have re-ignited their mobilization to denounce, in full ramadan, galloping inflation and a depreciation without previous of the lebanese pound, while several banks were vandalized across the country.

“Raise your voice”

“I went down to raise the voice against hunger, poverty, inflation and injustice,” said a protester 41-year-old Khaled.

This seller of spare parts for motorcycles said not being able to meet the needs of her three children since the loss of his employment, in a context still degraded with the pandemic of the COVID-19.

In the night, the videographer, the AFP was able to see Tripoli youth smash the front window of a bank with a pole iron, and a fire extinguisher, before setting fire to the establishment.

The serious economic crisis in which Lebanon is stuck for months had been one of the triggers in October 2019 for an uprising unprecedented against the political class, accused of corruption and incompetence.

Approximately 45% of the population now lives below the poverty line, according to official estimates.

The crisis is amplified with the preventive measures adopted against the spread of the new coronavirus, which have crippled a country where have been formally documented 710 cases, including 24 deaths.

On Tuesday, the minister of the Economy, Raoul Nehme, has recognized a price increase of 55%.

“No action”

This inflation is daily denounced on social networks, so that, for example, diapers for baby from 20 000 to 30 000 lebanese pounds (five to six dollars approximately), and the kilo of meat from 18 000 to 32 000.

On the black market, the local currency has exceeded the threshold of 4000 pounds for a dollar, while the official rate of 1507 pounds remained unchanged.

“Until now, the government has done nothing, if not suspend the payment of eurobonds”, said to AFP, the economist Sami Nader, in reference to the default in payment of the debt of Lebanon.

“Any action a harbinger of reforms has not been taken.”

The country is heading “towards a social explosion inevitable, with a currency that has lost nearly 200% of its value, and the decline of the purchasing power”, he adds.

The Association of banks in Lebanon has announced the closure of agencies in Tripoli, because of “the attacks and acts of vandalism”.

Shortly before dawn, Molotov cocktails were also thrown at a bank in Beirut, according to the official agency ANI.

Scenes of urban guerrilla warfare continued until late in the night, in a city (the second largest, in the country) invaded by the smoke of the tear gas, and where were gunshots, according to a videographer of the AFP.

Since the fall, they have imposed significant restrictions on withdrawals in dollars before shutting down completely in march, and to prohibit money transfers abroad.

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