It is time to remind everyone that the revolution did not start because a group of people was bored. It started because they were hungry, deprived, and abused by the system.
13 days of revolution and thirteen thousand fake news, propaganda, and conspiracy theories, many have tried to corrupt the revolution from within, tried to twist the causes into mischievous ones, and even tried to take advantage of the revolution to gain popularity.
So many things have happened that people almost forgot why the revolution started in the first. We will be presenting you with some of the reasons why the revolution did not corrupt the country, as the country was already on the edge of falling apart.
#1. Economic crisis
The dollar reached a solid 1,700 LPB in the black market. Exchange markets were charging 1,612 LBP for a dollar, all while exchanging dollar with the normal price in Lebanese Lira, which is 1,500 LPB. Banks ceased on giving people dollars, and marketers, as well as dealers, refused to get paid with the Lebanese Pound.
Traders usually buy products in dollars and sell them in Lebanese pound, and with a monetary crisis that was based on the rise in the value of the dollar currency against the national currency, businesses and people, in general, were just falling downhill.
It is no secret that most people cannot find a job if it wasn’t for the magical spell of a wasta. In most jobs, it does not matter how qualified, experienced, and skilled you are. The one thing that matters is how powerful your wasta (connection) can be.
#3. The same politicians ruling for decades
Most Lebanese politicians are 15 governmental years old to the very least, some even 25 years, without offering any good benefits to the people for all those years. We are not even talking about the people who have been in the government for over 20 years and the people who were Civil War criminals.
#4. Wheat/Flour Shortage
One of the major sectors affected by the value of the Lebanese Pound is bread. Bakeries, as well as factories, threatened the Central Bank and demanded that dealers pay in Lebanese Pound, or else they will hold a strike.
People rushed to bakeries for a whole week and bought off whatever wheat product they could get so that they can be prepared.
#5. Fuel Strike
The second major sector affected by the value of our currency is fuel. Like bread, station owners and fuel distributors threatened to go on a strike if the government does not convince the distributing companies to pay in the Lebanese currency.
This, however, lasted for weeks. Starting from Ramadan, people waited in lines every two weeks or so in gas stations to fuel up their cars, so they do not have to face a day of no fuel.
According to a study done by UNDP, 27% of Lebanese are considered poor, consuming less than $270 per month. That is equivalent to 1,642,140 out of the 6,082,000 Lebanese citizens residing in Lebanon.
16.5% of children under 5 years old in Lebanon are stunted, meaning they are not developing properly due to malnutrition. 51.7% of Lebanese are not covered by any form of health insurance. 50,000 Lebanese children were still out of school.
The richest 20% in Lebanon accounts for 40% of all consumption, five times higher than the poorest 20%. And the list can go on forever.
According to the same UNDP study, 21.6% of the Lebanese youths are unemployed. According to the American Federal Reserve System, the natural rate of unemployment is estimated to be 4.5-5%. Lebanon is ranked as the 22nd country with the highest unemployment rate in the world!
#8. Garbage crisis
Human Rights Watch wrote in an article condemning the government’s lack of responsibility dealing with Lebanon’s garbage crisis and the disastrous solutions it is offering:
“The lack of action by authorities to end open burning of waste across Lebanon is posing serious health risks for nearby residents, violating their right to health. People living near open burning reported health problems consistent with the frequent and sustained inhalation of smoke from open burning at waste dumps.”
#9. Electricity Shortage
10:00am, 2:00pm, 6:00pm, 12:00am. These time periods may seem normal to most people but will guarantee a mini heart attack to a Lebanese who knows these are the time the electricity goes off.
According to UNDP, in 2012, Electricité du Liban (EDL) only met 63% of the demand for electricity in Lebanon. We all know that the electricity crisis is merely getting better, and that we have been waiting on what seems now empty promises for years.
#10. Polluted Water
Up to 70% of natural water sources in Lebanon are bacterially contaminated, which means that the water we shower in, and we wash our fruits and vegetables with, are mostly contaminated and polluted.
Just three days before the revolution, Lebanon was a victim of major wildfires in different towns in Lebanon, burning forests, wildlife, and houses.
As always, members of the parliament and the government expressed their “sorrow” via media platforms, with little to no help in trying to reforest and rebuild houses for the families affected.
#12. Illicit Enrichment
Our politicians sleep one night with a reasonable amount of fortune and wakes up billionaires the second morning. The wealth of politicians has been constant eyebrow-raising speculation for years, with citizens always asking themselves: How on earth do these politicians get this filthy rich so fast?
#13. Beirut Port Strike
Politicians, as well as anti-protest supporters, have been accusing protestors of the close-down of the Port of Beirut. Well, guess what? The Port of Beirut went on a strike for over a month in May 2019, way before the revolution even started. I know that for sure, as I waited an extra month for my Aliexpress delivery package!
#14. Social Security for Elders
Before the revolution, the talk of Social Security for Retirees was nonexistent. As if people above 64 years old cease having basic needs, like health insurance! Even though the new reform paper includes social security for elders, it is hard to believe this promise, knowing that 51.7% of Lebanese are not covered by any health insurance.
#15. Lebanese University crisis
Speaking from a personal perspective of a Lebanese University graduate, I believe that this needs research on its own: How the government is literally sucking all the goods out of the University of people, how it favors politically affiliated professors over the qualified and intelligent ones, and how the government wants to pay its own debt with the percentage of tax the professors pay for after they retire...
#16. Gender Inequality
This is a topic that a lot shakes off, laughing, as they believe that most of our basic needs are not met and therefore gender inequality is often shrugged off the table. In the 2016 municipal elections, about 100 more women were elected than in the 2010 municipal elections, while women still only represent 5.5% of the municipal council seats.
Only 23.5% of women are part of the labor market, whereas the proportion of men is 70.3%, and only 3 percent of national parliamentary seats are held by women, according to UNDP.
That is to add the still-existing archaic gender-bias laws that have been victimizing Lebanese women and standing as a source of tremendous pain and suffering to Lebanese wives, mothers, and children. We can make a long list of these that could bring up another revolution and the outrage of any civilized country in the world. Crucial changes to these laws have been adamantly opposed by the government politicians for inexplicable reasons.
Lebanon was no heaven before the revolution erupted recently but in our own hearts and dreams. So stop pretending it was and that revolutionaries ruined it. People went down to the streets because they were too hungry, too deprived, unemployed, abused by the system, oppressed by archaic laws, and fed up with polluted water and electricity shortages.
Lebanese people needed radical changes and were met with major achievements, despite all odds and all the imperfections of the revolution. And what revolution wasn't ever?