A State of México police officer checks his messages while a looter exits a Bodega Aurrera. A State of México police officer checks his messages while a looter exits a Bodega Aurrera.

Gas protest round-up: 4 dead, 400 arrested

Widespread looting in 7 states; 19,000 march in Monterrey

Gas price protests have been registered in 19 states in which four people have died, some 400 have been arrested and 15 injured in confrontations with authorities, while looting in seven states has resulted in immeasurable economic losses.

The biggest protest gathering was in Monterrey, capital of Nuevo León, where as many as 19,000 people staged a demonstration last night in the Macroplaza.

It was a peaceful affair, reported the newspaper El Universal, until organizers lost control of the event to masked individuals who began firing explosives and vandalizing the government palace.

Authorities reported 32 arrests.

More arrests followed later in the night after violence and vandalism carried on into the early hours of this morning. The most significant event was the looting of a Bodega Aurrera store in the north of the city shortly after midnight when at least 200 people stole electronic goods, tried to burn a warehouse and seized a safe. Three were arrested.

At least two Soriana stores and countless smaller businesses were targeted by vandals and looters at various points throughout the greater metropolitan area.

There were violent confrontations between protesters and police in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo, and Monclova, Coahuila. In the first instance, a 25-year-old man died after 2,000 people clashed with federal and state police, leaving a patrol vehicle, a tow truck and two buses destroyed by fire and damages to Federal Police headquarters.

Four people were arrested and 13 civilians and three police injured.

In Monclova, the state police force Fuerza Coahuila’s use of tear gas to break up a demonstration outside Pemex facilities drew an angry response from protesters, who fought back with sticks and stones. Forty were arrested.

Looting carried on in Hidalgo, Veracruz, Tabasco, Chiapas and San Luis Potosí, and new outbreaks were reported in Puebla, Guerrero and Nuevo León.

In the early hours of this morning, a department store in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo, was robbed by looters while yesterday afternoon 10 convenience stores and two shopping centers were the targets of thieves in Tula.

The vandals seized a tanker truck and gave away the fuel it carried.

In the municipality of Macuspana, Tabasco, 11 business premises were looted and thieves made off with clothing, electronics and even motorcycles.

In Chiapas last night, an immigration center was set fire in Huehuetán and undocumented migrants set free, and a store and offices at a gas station looted and destroyed. In Tapachula, 500 youths robbed a dozen stores and clashed with state police.

The newspaper Reforma reported this morning that more than 40 business premises were vandalized and looted yesterday evening and into the night in Tapachula, Huixtla and Reforma, following which police made 139 arrests, most of them young people.

In Veracruz, robberies continued yesterday in five municipalities while nearly half a million people were affected by a work stoppage by public transit workers. Travelers were stranded when two bus lines canceled services.

Two presumed looters were allegedly killed in the city of Veracruz but there has been no official report of the incident.

Dozens of people looted large chain stores in the city of Puebla where there was a confrontation with police. Gunfire was reported after an attempt to loot the Woolworth’s store.

Three hundred people were involved in a robbery of an Oxxo store and a delivery truck in Tecpan de Galeana in Guerrero, while the state government deployed 11 trucks of police reinforcements to provide security at department stores in Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa.

There were disturbances at two shopping centers in Chetumal, Quintana Roo, where an explosive device was detonated, resulting in the arrest of 14 minors.

An attack on a gas station in La Venta, Oaxaca, resulted in the death of one employee while another suffered injuries. Protesters occupied a radio and television station and Finance Secretariat offices in the city of Oaxaca.

In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, 13 branches of a pawn shop closed for fear of looters.

Federal Police said last night 26 highway blockades were dismantled yesterday but others remain.

At least 50 trucks and tourist buses blocked the Mérida-Campeche highway in Yucatán while on the other side of the country protesters maintained blockades in Baja California Sur. Two in La Paz prevented the movement of freight from the port of Pichilingue, where some 8,000 tonnes of products arrive daily, including dozens of tanker trucks that carry fuel to the state.

Protests began Sunday when the federal government imposed fuel price increases ranging from 15%-20%, a move intended to bring prices to a level that reflects the true cost of gasoline and diesel.

Source: El Universal (sp), Reforma (sp)

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