On the students’ “Day of Rage” Lebanese students clashed with riot police in Beirut outside of the American University of Beirut (AUB) with tear gas being fired at the students, who responded by throwing bottles at riot police. The protest turned confrontation was organised by students as a response to the AUB and another top university in Beirut deciding to massively hike tuition fees in the midst of an economic crisis. They’ve done this by basing the price of tuition fees on an exchange rate of 3,900 Lebanese Pounds to the US Dollar.
However, this simply doesn’t work for students, as Lebanon’s currency has been in free fall recently, and its currently worth around 8,200 Lebanese Pounds to the Dollar.
According to UNICEF at least half of the population of Lebanon is living in poverty as consequence of the spiralling economic crisis of capitalism that the country finds itself engulfed in. They also warn of a “social catastrophe” with Central Bank subsidies for basic goods set to run dry in a just a few months.
Ridiculous austerity measures planned by the government were abandoned recently – that wanted to scrap the subsidy all together – because of the threat of a general strike by organised workers. These cuts would have plunged many more people into poverty by these heartless and ultimately futile attempts to save Lebanon’s dying economy.
Protests have rocked the country for the last few years, with demonstrators demanding the resignation of a stream of fragile governments and meaningful political change rather than the empty promises they have received.
As the contradictions of capitalism place Lebanese workers in an increasingly precarious position and workers continue to press their demands, the Lebanese government and potentially even state itself are walking on increasingly thin ice.