In the face of continued protests against higher gas prices, President Enrique Peña Nieto tried again yesterday to explain and justify fuel prices that rose as much as 20% on Sunday.
In a videotaped new year’s message, the president said he understood the anger that Mexicans were feeling but repeated his earlier argument that maintaining artificial fuel prices would have meant cutting social programs, raising taxes or increasing the national debt.
He also laid the blame for the situation on international prices and the administration of his predecessor, National Action Party president Felipe Calderón.
Peña Nieto said Calderón was not prepared to pay the political cost that would have been necessary to reduce gasoline subsidies. Instead, the president said, the Calderón administration lost nearly 1 billion pesos “burning up money to give away gasoline instead of investing it in public transit, schools, universities and hospitals.”
He also cited a 60% increase in international petroleum prices in the past year as another, external reason for the hike in gasoline and diesel prices.
The president addressed the country with yesterday’s message but he might consider delivering it again Monday at a meeting of state governors. At least one is not on side.
Sonora Governor Claudia Pavlovich, herself a member of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, yesterday expressed her disapproval over the implementation of the price increases.
She was critical of the manner in which they were implemented and declared it was not the right time to do it. Nor were state governors informed, she said.
“They never told us they were going to raise prices in such an unexpected and abrupt way . . . .”
Pavlovich said she planned to take her concerns to Monday’s meeting of Conago, the national governors’ conference.
Meanwhile, Calderón has been silent with respect to the president’s remarks, focusing instead on Donald Trump.
In a tweet directed at the United States president-elect, Calderón wrote: “The more jobs you destroy in Mexico, the more immigrants the American people will have. Think a little!”