Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Riots in Maputo

"Six people, including two children, are reported to have been killed during riots in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, over rising food and fuel prices."

Apparently the local population, tired of increases in the price of bread, petrol, water and electricity, took to the streets in a protest that was organized primarily by cell phone. Unfortunately violence erupted, and people who I've spoken with in Maputo today say the situation is still quite chaotic. There are reports of tires burning in the streets, cars being stoned and vandalized, barricades blocking the circulation of vehicles, and even reports of the police firing live rounds into crowds (although supposedly the police only use rubber bullets). Most people are just staying home, hunkering down until the violence draws to an end.

The news today gave me flashbacks to the riots of 2008, which I experienced first-hand and wrote about extensively here and here.

The main problem, as I see it, is that there is no real solution in sight. Prices will continue to increase, salaries will continue to be miserably low, and the root causes of the social and economic inequalities in Mozambique will persist. While I don't condone the violence, I can definitely see how the poor reach a breaking point when their lives are so unimaginably hard, and yet they constantly witness others (i.e. the fat cats associated with the Government and those who thrive on corrupt business practices) driving their luxury cars, living in their 15-room mansions, and acting like they rule the world. Something fundamental has got to give...until then, expect more headlines like today's coming out of Mozambique.

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