Lebanon at a crossroads

The streets have called: it’s time for action

Greg Demarque | Executive

There is nothing more humiliating than watching our political class continue with its usual dirty business while young people are being beaten and shot at in the street. The complete disrespect for our health, future and nation is so vulgar and in our face that we simply cannot, and should not, take it anymore.

What’s worse is seeing the media manipulated as the voice of these politicians. When newspapers can valorize waste management companies that everyone has for years accused of playing by the corrupt rules of the rotten game in this country, it is clear they are not even capable of minimal critical thought. They facilitated the manipulation trick that preceded the cancelling of the bids and communicated the wrong interpretation of the figures. We at Executive knew that the Akkar solution was being cooked up behind closed doors; the Minister of Agriculture clearly said it during his interview with us which took place four days before the announcement of tender winners. So why waste everyone’s time, then cancel the bids the next day and make it seem as if they are answering the calls from the street?

Cancelling the waste management tender was a colossal mistake. The solution being proposed by the intentionally booby trapped bidding process was certainly not the best the government could have come up with, but at least it was a solution. Prior to the July 17 closure of the Naameh landfill, some 26 percent of Lebanon’s garbage was simply dumped out in the open – despoiling our green valleys. There were 670 open dumps in this tiny country, and we don’t know how many more have sprung up since the chaos began. We could have been on the right path to turning our waste into energy. We could have significantly reduced landfilling. Instead, we have nothing but more dumps and the toxic, cancerous stench of burning trash.

Civil society members have finally decided to leave their desks and abandon their studious looks to take to the streets – excercising their constitutional right. I cannot help but see similarities between the frequency and intensity of events happening today and those that led to 1975. To avoid a repeat of past mistakes, those taking to the streets should come together with clear demands. Executive magazine has written a manifesto for all those wishing to change this country for the better to use and apply. What we need as a country is well-researched, critically analyzed solutions, not just another angry demonstration that lacks focus. For years we have been investigating this country’s many problems and proposing realistic solutions – even if they are not easy to implement under our current corrupt political system.

I said last month that the government’s handling of the waste management crisis would backfire and it did. I hope our calls for action in this magazine will be adopted to help drastically improve this country. We’re on a very bad path, and if we don’t push for change now, it will only get worse.

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