Protest in Mexico over government fuel price hike

January 4, 2017 12:00 pm

Protesters take part in a demonstration against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government outside Pemex facilities in Tepexpan, , January 3, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Mexicans have blocked a dozen fuel stations across the country in protest against a sharp increase in gasoline prices.
Activists argue that the government’s decision to raise fuel prices by up to 20 percent has no justification in an oil-rich country.
The protesters held signs reading “Mexico wakes up to no petrol” and chanted slogans against the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto. Small groups of protesters blocked the roads and a few main highways as well.
But Mexican officials argue that the hike conforms to a policy of the gradual liberalization of fuel prices that took effect at the start of January. The policy was initially supposed to be adopted in 2018, but the government decided to launch it sooner.
Still, President Nieto has promised that fuel prices would gradually fall owing to his 2014 energy reforms that ended a nearly seven-decade monopoly by state-run oil firm Pemex.
Pemex has warned that the blockades have resulted in a critical situation in at least three states, and that, if continued, they could affect nearby airports.
In a statement, Pemex has urged protesters to avoid blocking gas stations. Such actions have affected key terminals, and thus distribution problems have been reported in the states of Chihuahua, Durango and Morelos.
The company has also asked angry citizens to avoid any further violent actions which have already damaged stations and harmed pipeline workers in recent days.
On Wednesday, some gas terminals decided to stop working, fearing possible risks to the stations.  
On Monday, hundreds of Mexicans staged a rally in the capital Mexico City to express their resentment at the gas price hikes. They temporarily shut down a gas station. The demonstrators also slammed the government’s failure to address the critical living conditions of the poor across Mexico.
On January 1st, the government announced that the New Year will see a soar in gasoline prices across the country.
Mexico’s petroleum market has plans to open to the private sector in March 2017, and the Finance Ministry has announced that the price hike is being enforced in preparation for the upcoming competition.
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