The deterioration of the standard of living pushes Moroccans into the streets

Several Moroccan cities register protest concentrations due to the scarcity of basic products

The protests reach the streets of Dajla, the second city of Western Sahara

Mohamed VI announced last week a shock plan to deal with the consequences of the drought

The perfect Storm. Inflation -the rise in is especially affecting the prices of fuel and food products-, the severe drought -the worst in three decades, is noticeable in agricultural production, in a country where more than 40% of the active population works in the countryside- and the virtual disappearance of tourism for almost two years, among other economic repercussions of the pandemic, are hitting Moroccan society mercilessly. Discomfort over the deterioration of living conditions has already pushed many Moroccans to express their discontent in the street, as happened last weekend in Casablanca, Tangier or Rabat -in some cases with considerable attendance- among other places. The Sunday’s protests were nurtured by the added symbolism of the coincidence with the eleventh anniversary of the February 20 Movement, the motley sequel – secular, leftist, Islamist – of the Arab Spring in Morocco. Not surprisingly, although the rallies, such as the one held in Rabat, were marked by social demands, they sang “freedom, dignity and social justice” or “let’s get rid of the police state”, slogans chanted in the very streets of the capital of Morocco in those months of protest effervescence. “We have phosphate and two seas but we live in misery” was another of the banners -among the black flags of the February 20 Movement- that could be seen in the outskirts of the Moroccan Parliament in Rabat.

Theft of vegetables in markets

Although far from the media spotlight that the big cities do enjoy, the crisis is also affecting daily life in the Moroccan rural world, where the majority of the Moroccan population lives. Last Sunday, images emerged of individuals stealing fruit and vegetables from stalls at the Had Oulal Jelloul street market, in the town of Kenitra -a coastal town located 35 kilometers from Rabat-, which have caused the outrage of many citizens of the Maghreb country. The scenes deserved a note from the official MAP news agency in which he realized an “unusual price speculation of certain consumer products.” According to the same source, security forces iThey intervened to guarantee order and are already investigating what happened. In the collective regional memory is present the memory of Mohamed Bouazizi, the young street vendor of fruits and vegetables from the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid whose self-immolation lit the fuse of discontent in December 2010. For its part, the liberal government Akhannouchwhat links the cost of living to the “unexpected economic recovery” and “the continuous rise in the prices of cereals and hydrocarbons in the international markets”, reacts as best it can to a social problem that does not seem to have a simple or quick solution. Aware of the risks that discontent will spark in larger protests -and a few weeks before the start of the holy month of Ramadan, which necessarily implies significant financial outlays for Moroccan families-, the monarch himself Mohamed VI announced last week a shock plan to deal with the consequences of the drought in the rural world for a value of about one billion euros. The Ministry of Economy also announces a subsidy of 350 million dollars to subsidize flour prices.

Protests in Western Sahara

As well The protests have reached the territory that was a Spanish colony until 1975. Although rallies against local authorities are common in the main Saharawi cities, in recent hours there has been a large march in the streets of the city of Dajla, in the south of the territory. Its organizers demand that the Moroccan authorities investigate the causes of the disappearance and death of a small local merchant, Habib Agrishi, under strange circumstances.

As can be seen in recordings from the streets of the old Villa Cisneros, the Moroccan security forces dissolved, by using forcefully, the protests called on Monday night, according to Moroccan digital media such as or Gouda. ma. Last weekend the representative of the Polisario Front to the United Nations sent a harsh letter to the secretary general of the institution in which he deplored the silence of the UN in the face of “the crimes perpetrated against Saharawi civilians and human rights activists” and demanded an investigation into what happened. However, the family of the deceased has asked, according to the digital, that death not be exploited politically.

A new military zone along the Algerian border

Meanwhile, the Moroccan authorities they do not neglect the defensive front one iota in the midst of a diplomatic conflict with Algeria. In the last hours it has transpired that the Maghreb country will from now on have three military commands when the military zone of the eastern region was created, next to the Algerian border. According to the FAR Maroc Facebook profile -always well informed regarding the latest news about the Moroccan Armed Forces-, the new eastern military region has the objective of strengthen defense in the area and combat the threat of cross-border crime, smuggling or illegal immigration. At the head of the new military region will be Major General Mohamed Miqdad. Let us remember that in August of last year, Algiers broke off diplomatic relations with its neighbors whom it accused of supporting secessionism in its territory and of espionage on its authorities. The underlying problem today and for decades between the two Maghreb powers is the conflict in Western Sahara, whose independence Algeria defends. In November 2020 the Polisario Front considered the ceasefire broken with Morocco in force since 1991.

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