A police officer watches as a truck blocks a highway in Tlaxcala. A police officer watches as a truck blocks a highway in Tlaxcala. excélsior

Widespread blockades as protests continue

Anger over fuel price increases continues for the third day in a row

Protesters continued for the third day in a row to express their displeasure over Sunday’s big fuel price increase, blocking highways, occupying gas stations and even trashing them.

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As of this afternoon, Federal Police were reporting 12 blockades in the states of Sonora, Puebla, Morelos, Chihuahua, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Hidalgo, State of México and Querétaro, while the newspaper Milenio counted 18 states in which there were protests against gasoline and diesel price increases ranging from 15%-20% that went into effect Sunday.

The newspaper El Universal reported this morning that as many as 2,000 people were participating in individual marches and blockades as anger continues over the gasolinazo, as the increase is known.

Some of the protests have been violent.

In Tapachula, Chiapas, a group of people believed to be teachers’ college students vandalized a gas station, giving away gasoline and motor oil to motorists. Before leaving, the youths trashed the pumps.

A similar situation was reported in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo: a group of youths gave away fuel while a second group detained a tanker truck carrying gasoline for several minutes.

In Sinaloa, eight people were arrested after they attempted to block tanker trucks from leaving a Pemex facility in Mazatlán. In Los Mochis, a contingent protested the new gasoline prices while riding bicycles.

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In Guadalajara there was a confrontation between protesting citizens and police. The protesters tried to repel the police by throwing stones and bottles, but the latter retaliated by using tear gas. The state Attorney General’s office reported that five arrests had been made.

In the state of Puebla there were two protests, one by citizens and a second by some 100 Uber drivers, who demanded an increase in their tariffs.

The only state without a significant protest was Tabasco.

One of the highways worst affected was Mexico City-Querétaro, which was blocked in both directions. It was the third day for a blockade on the highway, which left traffic backed up for several kilometers.

Chihuahua saw the largest number of highway protests, with one highway completely closed, five that were partially blocked and the presence of protesters on another three.

More than 500 transportation workers blocked highways by stopping traffic intermittently at at least five locations in the state of Tlaxcala and warned they wouldn’t budge until the federal government replied to their concerns and agreed to drop fuel prices.

Opponents to the gasolinazo have included private citizens, politicians, transportation workers, taxi drivers, shop owners and others, who warned that the prices of products and services will have to increase due to higher fuel costs.

Bus companies in Morelos have already gone ahead and increased their fares from 6.50 pesos to 10, a move that the local Transport Secretariat deemed illegal.

Interior Secretariat officials said they have kept tabs on all blockades and protests against the increase in prices, and warned that while the public’s right to assembly and protest will be respected, highway and road blockades will not be tolerated.

The federal government has defended the increases on the grounds that subsidies have maintained prices that do not reflect the true cost of the products. It is in the process of preparing for the full liberalization of gasoline and diesel pricing, which will take place beginning in March and conclude at the end of the year.

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

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  • kallen

    The curse of being an oil producing nation……..and only having one state-owned oil company……and subsidizing fuel for its citizens…….and using what’s left over to pay for social programs…..and I guess that would all work if the price of a barrel of oil was high.

    • StevenH57

      Worked great for Venezuela!

  • Nincompoops. Mexicans are often our own worst enemies:

    https://goo.gl/43tcwV

    • Güerito

      This editorial is grossly distorted in focusing exclusively on PRD blocking earlier attempts at energy (and other) reforms pushed by both former PAN Presidents Fox and Calderón. PRI led the successful attempts to thwart the reforms precisely because they didn’t want the PAN party to get credit for the results.

      In the end PRI, returned to power and pushed through the reforms and enjoyed worldwide accolades for a couple years. Then the reality set in that, at least as applied to the energy reform, it was about a decade late as world energy prices had fallen dramatically and, in those same ten years, nothing was done to modernize the petroleum industry.

      This mess Mexico is now in with gas shortages and ridiculous price increases was largely caused by the opposition PRI party 2000-20012.

      “Under Vicente Fox, who governed Mexico and headed the center-right National Action Party (PAN) from 2000 to 2006, a divided Mexican Con­gress adopted some needed reforms after 71 straight years during which the center-left Institutional Rev­olutionary Party (PRI) had reigned supreme by con­trolling both the presidency and the Congress. The PRI, backed and financed inter alia by the Pemex and electricity workers unions, enjoyed such total control that pundits jokingly described Mexico as “the Soviet Union of the Western Hemisphere.”

      Calderón’s reputation as a pragmatist may help him strike a political deal with the lawmakers. The PRI’s nearly 80-year hold on political power in the Congress through deeply entrenched, well-con­nected economic monopolies, however, is proving difficult for Calderón to unravel.

      The opposition, including entrenched special inter­ests in the PRI and anti-globalization activists in the PRD, will try to “forestall reaching the two-thirds majority needed to change Mexico’s constitution and allow for participation of private companies in oil exploration and production.

      By 2000, the PRI had exercised a political monopoly in Mexico for 70 straight years, since the time of President Cárdenas. The PRI power base rested (and continues to rest) heavily on Pemex and the Pemex workers’ union. An almost identical and equally negative phenomenon can be observed today in the Venezuela of Hugo Chavez.

      *******The PRI members of the Mexican Congress are fiercely resisting even the minor Pemex reforms that President Calderón is proposing. The reason, as noted by The Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady:

      [T]he guardians of the status quo—politi­cians, suppliers and labor—would suffer if competition hit the market. Private Mexi­can contractors who “supply” Pemex are [accustomed] …to business transactions tied to political connections. If there were multiple buyers in competition with one another, those political profit margins would evaporate.

      That benefit will be realized if President Calderón overcomes PRI resistance and speeds up efforts at reform of Mexico’s energy sector to help it catch up with the majority of other producer coun­tries. Although some “important changes have been introduced to attract private investment in natural gas transportation and distribution”:**********

      [The most important] issue in the immediate term will be the evolution of competition in the market. Hence, one of the first issues to be tackled to enhance the role of market forces in the sector is Pemex’ discretionary discounts on domestic gas and access to transport services made possible by its monopoly in domestic production and its overwhelming dominance in [pipeline] transport.”

      http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/05/how-reforms-in-mexico-could-make-the-us-more-secure

    • Güerito

      And it’s not just radical leftist AMLO supporters protesting the gas price increases. Really, every segment of socieity is, though not all violently.

      Business leaders, retailers (large and small), state Governors, public transportation representatives, state legislatures, and substantial numbers in both chambers of the national legislature (including some PRI members) are calling for a reconsideration of the outrageous price increase.

  • BB

    Does anyone know what prompted the increase? 15%-20% increase is just huge!

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