Threats of immolation and “picket” at the bank, anything goes to avoid the corralito in Lebanon

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With all his savings stuck in the bank due to the “corralito” in Lebanon and mounting debts to pay for the medical bills of his cancer-stricken wife, Ahmad Al Hajjar’s father He went to a branch ready to blow himself up access your money.

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Their story is similar to that of many other Lebanese who, since the outbreak of a serious economic crisis in the country at the end of 2019, can withdraw only limited amounts of cash in dollars or its equivalent in Lebanese pounds at the exchange more than five times lower than that of the black market.

For those who had been saving in the local currency, their money is virtually worthless today, as in just three years the Lebanese pound It went from a value of 1,507 units per dollar to over 80,000 in the parallel market, triggering the number of desperate acts by savers.

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Protests outside bank branches have become a daily occurrence in Lebanon since the crisis began in 2019. Photo: AFP

Protests outside bank branches have become a daily occurrence in Lebanon since the crisis began in 2019. Photo: AFP

two lives lost

Al Hajjar assured EFE that, in his case, they first exhausted “all” legal avenues, but the bank still wouldn’t give them access to their life savings while his mother’s health continued to deteriorate, so his father decided to take a drastic measure.

“He went to the bank by force to get his money, was about to set itself on fire just to take his money,” the young man said through sobs.

All of their savings were in the bank, including the profits made after the sale of two lands and three shops: about $80,000 and, on the other hand, 750 million Lebanese pounds which had been converted into the local currency procured by the bank just two months before the crisis erupted.

With no access to more than a shred of that money each month, when the mother fell ill they had to borrow money to pay for the constant visits to hospitals, where thousands of dollars were left behind before they received the news that the woman had cancer .

The protests also led to a strong police crackdown.  Photo: AP

The protests also led to a strong police crackdown. Photo: AP

“My father would go (to the bank) and ask what his entitlement was, but they wouldn’t give it to him. In the end, we had debts with people and how would we repay them?” explained Al Hajjar, whose mother also needed of medicines and medical care. .

The father of the young man he managed to get the branch to give him $25,000 only when he chose to use “force”, a measure that cost him several days of arrest and caused his grandfather to have a heart attack, who “died instantly” after learning that his son had been arrested.

“This year we have lost two martyrs to the banks, the bank killed two of ours. My mother and grandfather are dead,” Al Hajjar lamented.

A “picket” at the bank with the mother as a weapon

While in the last three years several affected by the “corralito” have opted for go to their banks with firearms or drums of petrolHussain Hassan Saado’s light bulb went on when an elderly woman successfully raided a branch near his office in Beirut.

He knew that he would have had to use violence to save his money and he didn’t care about going to jail, but he thought that his mother, 90 years old and with so many remedies to pay, had the possibility of accessing his without having to resort to guns or knives.

According to what he told EFE, he went to his mother’s bank and explained it to her the woman is very old and lives on the seventh floorSo he could only take it to withdraw a small amount in Lebanese pounds when the current made one of its rare appearances and they could use the elevator.

In the context of the crisis, the state electricity supply arrives a couple of hours a day at best and at completely random times.

The next day, Saado took his mother to the branch with the help of several people, and the security guards let them in thanks to the manager, who still thought the old woman was trying to withdraw some cash.

“When we told him we wanted our money, he opened the account, saw it was in dollars and was amazed. That’s where the deal started (…) He kept saying he couldn’t give it to us and I told him we weren’t leaving,” the man said, laughing when he remembered the situation. A real bank “picket”.

Saado was aware that things would take a long time, so he had brought medicine and food with him for his mother.

During the negotiations, the regional director of the institution, security forces, intelligence and the presswhile for their part they called the Association of Depositors.

Faced with the growing pressure and fatigue of the old, the bank he ended up agreeing to deliver $10,800 of the $21,000 containing the account, and were allowed to leave once the media left the area, 9 hours after the “operation” began.

“Since we didn’t attack anyone and there was no violence, there were no weapons, they spoke to the prosecutor and there were no charges. We left with all due respect,” Saado said.

Source: EFE

Source: Clarin

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