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Strike paralyzes Lebanon as economic conditions worsen

Schools, universities and many shops are closed in Lebanon today as a general strike by public transportation and labor unions paralyzes the crisis-hit Mideast nation.

Protesters closed the country’s major highways as well as roads inside cities and towns, starting at 5 a.m., to protest fuel prices that have increased at an alarming rate after the government lifted subsidies. Taxi and truck drivers used their vehicles to block roads. In the capital of Beirut, many roads are blocked by giant trash bins and vehicles.

The nationwide protests, dubbed a “day of rage,” were scheduled to last 12 hours but appear to have petered out by early afternoon. The number of protesters is small.

The protest action comes as the Lebanese pound has continued to tumble against the dollar. About 80% of people in Lebanon live in poverty after the Lebanese pound lost more than 90% of its value in the past two years. Filling up a gasoline tank now costs more than the monthly minimum wage.

The ruling class, which has run Lebanon into the ground, has proved unwilling to reform and has done almost nothing to try to pull the country out of its meltdown, rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement.

A truck driver holds a Lebanese flag as others drivers block a main highway with their vehicles during a general strike by public transport and workers unions, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

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