Roads, stations blocked to protest gasoline hikes

Small groups of protesters blockaded some roads and gasoline stations in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — Small groups of protesters blockaded some roads and gasoline stations in Mexico on Monday to protest a government price deregulation that sent the price of fuel up by as much as 20 per cent over the weekend.

One group blockaded a privately owned gasoline station on Mexico City’s main boulevard, shouting: “The people, united, will never be defeated!”

“This will increase the cost of living for all Mexicans. It will make more expensive transportation, basic food stuffs, food, and it will ultimately hit Mexican families,” said Rafael Sotocruz, a nurse who was protesting at the station.

On a busy highway leading into the capital from the west, another group blocked traffic and held up a banner reading “Enough already!”

Reports on social media and local newspaper sites suggested small, intermittent protests popped up at a half dozen other sites across the country.

The Mexican government said the deregulation had long been planned, but unfortunately coincided with rising world oil prices. The deregulation is aimed at ending subsidies that the government says largely benefit wealthier Mexicans and at attracting interest in private participation in the newly opened fuel market

“Unfortunately, it coincided with a significant increase in international oil prices,” said Miguel Messmacher, Mexico’s assistant finance secretary.

That, and a drop in the value of the Mexican peso against the dollar in 2016, probably would have resulted in gas price hikes last year, but the government was still setting prices then. Mexico imports much of its gasoline, even though it exports crude oil.

“It was precisely because we were limiting these (price) movements in some ways that gave rise to this pent-up increase,” Messmacher said.

“These things always create bad feelings,” he added. “That is very clear, and very understandable. It is very clear to us that this is obviously an unpopular measure.”

When the deregulation took effect on New Year’s Day protesters snarled traffic on one of the country’s main north-south highways.

Gasoline supplies have begun stabilizing after some stations were recently left dry due to what officials described as panic buying, increased holiday demand, unforeseen shipping delays and damage to pipelines that officials blamed on a surge in fuel thefts.

Authorities still haven’t explained why pipelines thefts increased so dramatically in early December, but the government was forced to increase military patrols by 60 per cent to combat the thefts. Thieves steal about $1.4 billion worth of fuel products annually from pipelines operated by the state oil company, Pemex, according to official estimates.

The 2017 price deregulation is part of a broader overhaul of Mexico’s energy sector passed two years ago under President Enrique Pena Nieto allowing some private investment and ending more than seven decades of state monopoly over oil.

In a second phase later this year, other companies will be allowed to begin importing and distributing gasoline instead of Pemex handling the entire supply chain.

Just Posted

Former prison employee pleads guilty to role in inmate escape

Corrections Canada employee smuggled cash into prison for inmate who later escaped

Gesundheit! Stifling a sneeze can cause injuries in rare cases, experts say

TORONTO — With cases of flu continuing to rise in Canada, there’s… Continue reading

‘Reprehensible’: Trudeau abortion policy raises ire of U.S. right

WASHINGTON — In what’s almost certainly a first in the lengthy history… Continue reading

Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

TOKYO — Japan’s public broadcaster mistakenly sent an alert warning citizens of… Continue reading

Replay Red Deer Jan. 14: Watch news highlights in pictures

Stories mentioned: Red Deer RCMP seize large quantity of cocaine: Read more… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Central Albertans recall Hawaii’s false missile alert

Former Red Deer councillor Paul Harris was hanging out at the Ka’anapali… Continue reading

This robotic maid takes us one step closer to ‘The Jetsons’

Imagine this: You’re rushing to get ready for work — juggling emails,… Continue reading

Milan line offers canine couture for pampered pooches

Milan has long been the world’s ready-to-wear fashion leader. Now, dogs are… Continue reading

Kim Kardashian West and husband Kanye welcome baby girl

NEW YORK — It’s a girl for Kim Kardashian West and her… Continue reading

Advocate poll takers oppose plastic bag ban

Red Deer Advocate readers like their plastic bags. In an Advocate poll,… Continue reading

Photo: Chilly work in Veterans’ Park

What a chilly job but somebody has to do it.… Continue reading

Boy, 15, one of three hit in Vancouver shooting

Police believe a man in his 20s was the target of the shooting

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month