Bank robberies return power to the Lebanese people

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  • Desperation forces the population to break into their bank branches with weapons and demand part of their savings to be able to pay for the medical treatment of their relatives

  • < h2>“The confrontation is inevitable, even if it is bloody; the mafia that governs us has come to devour the energy of the people”, denounces the lawyer who advises the outraged depositors

Bank-robbers the banks give power back to the Lebanese people

When resources run out, Lebanese society puts in the work. He does it without too much violence. He knows that what he demands belongs to him. They enter their banks with all their presence and ask, for the umpteenth time, to be able to withdraw their savings from their dying checking accounts. They have done it dozens of times but this one is different. They bring a weaponThey douse the branch with gasoline, and then the employees take out money that yesterday, when they claimed it empty-handed, did not seem to exist. They leave with briefcases full of bills while, outside, the town celebrates its new Robin Hood. In Lebanon, desperation forces them to take justice into their own hands, and the last battle is fought at bank branches.

Sally Hafezcame in at the Blom bank offices in Beirut with a toy gun a couple of weeks ago. This well-known activist, a 28-year-old interior designer, demanded the thousands of dollars that were in her sister's checking account and that she needed to pay for her cancer treatment. achieved She walked out of the bank with$13,000and become an icon. Next to her was Rami Ollaik, his lawyer. “When a depositor is dying on the doorstep of the hospital while the bank keeps your money and the bankers spend it on private planes, that's not right. well”, Ollaik explains to this newspaper, “we consider legitimate that they claim their savings by force”.

“Depositors are taking the law into their own hands for their own health”, he adds upset by phone. phone. Lebanese have not had access to their savings for three years following the imposition of informal capital controls by banks. The collapse of the banking systemhas made much of your money evaporate. Thousands of Lebanese have wasted their energies against bank employees who denied them what was theirs. But, before, news about this type of robbery was known by the dropper. Instead, now they do not stop happening. As Sally broke into the Blom across the capital, another depositor was recovering $30,000. That same week there were another seven assaults by outraged depositors. Only this Tuesday, there have been three assaults in different parts of the country. One of which has been done by a retired police officer.

“In self-defense”

Ollaik is the founder of United for Lebanon Against Corruption, a group of lawyers who leads He has been fighting the banks for three years. “We filed the first lawsuit against the banks, against several of its executive members and also against Riad Salameh & rdquor ;, the governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon for three decades and currently unaccounted for, says Ollaik. “We have renounced the judicial power, we consider it the first responsible for what is happening. happening, since they have blocked any way to demand justice & rdquor ;, recalls this lawyer on the way to another of his litigations. Having overcome the judicial process, they decided to find a new path. 

Now, they advise depositors to carry out their robberies and recover part of their money. They usually only help those who need it for medical reasons. “Given the situation in Lebanon and the state of corruption, we agreed to uphold the right to self-defense as a exemption from sanctionsin case of emergencies & rdquor ;, indicates Ollaik. The attacks, although multiple, have not caused any injuries. beyond apart from some broken glass and the mess it leaves behind, depositors just want the money. But they have already installed fear in the banks. This week some branches have reopened with greatly reduced services after several days of closure. 

Conversations with the IMF

The economic crisis in the ;bano has condemnedthree quarters of the population to poverty. Citizenship languishes without medicines, without electricity and without water. Their local currency, the Lebanese pound, has been devalued by more than 90% but wages are still adjusted to the previous exchange rate. As of November 1, the country will increase its fixed exchange rate against the dollar at 15,000 Lebanese poundsabandoning the 1,500 pounds per dollar that had been maintained since 1997. The government has been engaged in talks with the International Monetary Fund for months to unblock a financial assistance program. 

As long as the authorities do not implement financial reforms, such as a capital control law, the rescue will not come. “This has reached the most extreme levels of humiliation; the people are She is angry and talks about burning down the houses of bank owners in Lebanon and abroad”, admits Olliak. “The confrontation is inevitable, even if it is bloody; the mafia that governs us has come to devour the energy of the people, they don't care about us & rdquor ;, adds the lawyer for EL PERIÓDICO. The Lebanese have no choice but, armed with their body and large doses of desperation, to demand what belongs to them. At the doors of the banks, carrying a briefcase full of their money, they regain power for an instant.