Gas stations owners in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, shut down Sunday in protest against acts by the dissident CNTE teachers’ union and its supporters, which on Saturday occupied eight gas stations and gave away fuel.
The union local Section 40 was continuing their series of protests against education reforms enacted by President Enrique Peña Nieto over three years ago, and the January 1 increase in gasoline prices.
Students of teacher training colleges and members of allied organizations also took part.
Gas stations owners said protesters gave away up to 14,000 liters of gasoline during their takeover of the pumps, representing losses of 1 million pesos (US $52,000).
The teachers withdrew from the gas stations Saturday evening, triggering the counter-protest by owners, who shut down 34 of the capital’s 41 gas stations for 24 hours, citing the lack of guarantees of security.
In a prepared statement, the Union of Gasoline Distributors of Chiapas (Unión de Distribuidores de Gasolina de Chiapas, A.C.) said it was not opposed to demonstrations by any group or union and supported everyone’s right to free expression, “as long as the rights of other people and businesses are respected.”
“Gasoline vendors from Chiapas do not represent any federal, state or municipal authority,” stated the business owners, adding that they felt they were left in a “state of helplessness by public security authorities.”
This situation “puts our staff at risk . . . and our investments,” said the communique, complaining that the CNTE protests were harmful “because they frighten away investment and cause the stagnation of the state’s financial development.”
“We are business people that bet on development and continue to create jobs,” concluded the press release, adding that they see energy reform as “a challenge to become better and more productive.”
Gas stations have long been a favorite target of protesting teachers in states such as Chiapas and Oaxaca. Saturday’s protest was timed to coincide with the 79th anniversary of the nationalization of the petroleum industry.
Source: El Universal (sp)
Correction: The original version of this story stated the protest marked the anniversary of the petroleum industry’s privatization, the complete opposite of what actually happened.