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The rebellion of the mafias of the electricity in Lebanon

“this Is surreal”, says Rami Rajeh, platform policy ‘Beirut Medinati’. “The Government has the monopoly of the production of electricity, but admits its inability to meet the needs of the citizenry and in parallel threatened with fines to a collective illegal [of private generators] who decide to make a strike,” he adds. The minister lebanese Trade, Raed Khoury, announced in early October the entry into force of a new measure by which the owners of the private generators have to install meters for its customers and charge a fixed price of 439 pounds to lebanese (0,25 euro cents) per kilowatt-hour.

The new law affects the illegal activity of thousands of businessmen since the civil war have proliferated in the country by a division of the neighborhoods as if it was a ministry parallel is involved. “Oh, between 29 and 58 euros monthly flat fee according to the number of amperes. If we bow to the price that has been stipulated by the State we lose a lot of money.” Who makes accounts is Amer Shager, one of the six owners of private generators whose oligopoly caters during the three hours of cutting a day to the 15,000 residents of the district of Raas el Nabaa, Beirut. “This Government has a problem of chronic dysfunction , there live two systems: the formal and the informal. What that translates to for the consumer in two monthly bills for electricity, Internet, water...”, snorts Rajeh in Beirut Medinati.

“Use the force”, has threatened the minister of Trade after 60% of the owners refused to install the meters. “We will strike”, he said, the Central Committee of the Owners of Generators —a sort of illegal trade union that brings together more than 3,500 homeowners across Lebanon. And so they did at the beginning of November to paralyze for two hours dozens of generators, forcing the Megabahis neighbors to descend and climb the stairs of their estate with a flashlight to prevent a fall.

Others like Haifa Saidi, a housewife and also neighboring Raas el Nabaa, can not cope with two monthly bills. “I live in a sixth floor with a sick mother and four children, so I have to schedule daily shopping, family visits, and collected from school or doctors according to the hours of power cuts,” he laments before you scream “Kus ujta al balad!" (Who will fuck this country!!!, in Arabic), chorus street usual to refer sarcastically to the Government.

Ahmed Khaled, electrician in the neighborhood, they take it with better humor: “In the slums, or hitched cables to the houses of the richest neighbours, or buy electric batteries, or manipulate the fuses to consume more amps than you pay”. Practices so widespread that they explain that the company Electricity Of Lebanon (state and to charge the monopoly) drag a debt of 3,500 million euros.

As it seems to lack the intensity of the war in neighboring Syria (in whose capital city there are neighborhoods that receive 24 hours of electricity), Beirut attempts to focus on national issues. However, the perennial pressures of regional country causes it to accumulate delays in the formation of a new Government since last may to hold the first parliamentary election in almost a decade. “The president [general Michel Aoun] attempting to get chest and to demonstrate that the State works and respect”, values Jad Chaaban, economist of the American University of Beirut. “But you can't win because you do not have the support of the other parties, and the mafia of the generators is supported by the local leaders that are protected by militias on the ground, which, in turn, are under the orders of the parliamentarians who sit in the Congress”, apostille.

In 2015, the mismanagement in the collection of waste became Lebanon in a landfill giant, provoking the wrath of their citizens that they take to the streets to shouting “corrupt, apestáis!”. After more than two years without president, managed to form a Government in 2016. Then premiered a ministry dedicated to the fight against corruption. The discontent citizen and the stampede of investors add up today, the pressures of the International Monetary Fund, whose recipe is the same as that prescribed to the rest of the region: to reduce public spending and increase taxes. A policy difficult to implement without provoking popular discontent.

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