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Tires burn outside a gas station yesterday in Acolman, State of México. Tires burn outside a gas station yesterday in Acolman, State of México. milenio

Insecurity could close 400 gas stations today

Mexico's largest gas station operator says conditions may not be safe enough

Mexico’s largest gas station operator will temporarily close at least 400 of its 1,800 outlets if insecure conditions continue today, while the state oil company has warned that blockades of storage terminals have led to a critical distribution problems in three states.

The head of Grupo Gasolinero G500 told a press conference last night that incidents of violence have occurred at more than 400 of its stations throughout the country, where protesters — purportedly expressing their opposition to Sunday’s fuel price increase — have burned tires, assaulted employees and stolen fuel.

Most of the incidents have taken place in the Mexico City metropolitan area, said Antonio Caballero y Fernández.

“We have gasoline to sell,” he said, but conditions are not ideal.

Perpetrators have committed acts of vandalism against the gas stations and attacked staff, requiring some to be hospitalized, Caballero said.

“It’s not worth selling even a liter of gasoline if it puts people’s safety at risk.”

Stations will begin closing today at noon if conditions have not improved, he said.

Fifty of the group’s stations closed intermittently yesterday in the face of insecurity.

The news website Sin Embargo reported that gas stations in five State of México municipalities were occupied by protesters who ordered employees out, took control of the pumps and gave away fuel to motorists.

Attempts were made to do the same at several stations in the state of Zacatecas.

Meanwhile, Pemex said yesterday that protesters’ blockades of terminals have created distribution problems in Chihuahua, Durango and Morelos, a situation it described as “critical.”

It also said blockades in Chihuahua and Baja California could affect airport operations in those states.

Source: Zeta Tijuana (sp), Sin Embargo (sp), Excélsior (sp)

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