Mexico has started off the new year with chaos and protests.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Jan.7, “ [there is] unrest over the gasoline price hikes in Mexico flared up at the Tijuana border crossing Saturday night [Jan. 7] as a large protest prompted U.S. authorities to block access into Mexico from San Ysidro for nearly four hours.”
“Southbound Interstates 5 and 805 began to reopen to motorists wanting to cross the border about 9:15 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.” This is due to protests which have been caused by the large increase in gasoline prices.
Tijuana resident Mario Osuna told the The LA Times that, “The situation down here is kind of getting out of control.”
The increase in gas prices which was caused by the decrease in the peso’s worth which is now valued at .046 of the U.S. dollar, hitting an all time low after the election of Donald Trump spotted in a chart from CNN. As the first light of 2017 was sighted, the prices in gas raised from 9.57 pesos to 13.89
Israel Castellon, a demonstrator from Tijuana has even gone as far to claim, “Peña Nieto is not my president. He has carried out stupid reforms that have been harmful to citizens and benefited politicians or those from the privileged classes,” Castellon said. “Those who have been hurt are those who have the least.”
According to the publication by LA Times, “On Wednesday in Arizona, similar protests led Mexican authorities to close the border crossing at Nogales, Sonora, to southbound traffic.” Previous to the border being closed, the line of cars for crossing back into the United States had hit record as had San Ysidro.
The New York Times released the President, Pena Nieto’s statement regarding the sharp increase, “Here I ask you,” he had said gesturing to the camera “what would you have done?” Needless to say, this was met with quite an uproar by mexican citizens.
He had received responses on social media telling him that his alternatives could have been to, “Combat corruption and impunity, eliminate gasoline vouchers for elected officials, collect more taxes from multinational corporations, cut the salaries and benefits of high-level government officials, sell the presidential plane, reduce the first lady’s wardrobe spending [and some even telling him to] resign,” as reported by the New York Times.
Peña Nieto has been met with additional calamity as, “Mexico braces for the administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump, who has threatened to introduce far more restrictive immigration and trade policies, including canceling the North American Free Trade Agreement, increasing deportations and building a wall on the southern border of the United States.”
The New York Times reports that, the peso has slowly been dropping in worth, “but the currency took another hit after Mr. Trump threatened Toyota on Thursday with a ‘big border tax’ if it went ahead with a new factory in Mexico.”
Fueled with exasperation, “citizens took to the streets, staging marches throughout the country and blocking key highways.”
The New York Times has even reported that, “By last weekend, hundreds of stores had been looted around the country and more than 1,000 people detained, the authorities said, and at least six people had been killed in clashes between looters and the police.”
A protester in the heart of Mexico, Alicia Rose 32, told New York Times, “We don’t want this corrupt country any more,” she had joined the protesters on Thursday, “The legislators get 10,000 pesos in gasoline vouchers when the people can’t afford to fill up their tanks.”
She added, “If gasoline goes up, everything goes up.”
CNN has covered the extensive effects of the 20% raise in the gas price, “Authorities arrested more than 250 people for robbery and acts of vandalism around the country this week.”
Although not all protests have been violent, “Some protests have been peaceful.,” according to CNN. These protests consist of standing with signs, not nearly as drastic as the lootings that have been occurring.
“Some protesters say their frustration with the government is about much more than sticker shock. Peña Nieto has faced criticism for his handling of the country’s drug war, alleged corruption in his administration and his decision to meet with Donald Trump during the US presidential campaign,” as reported by CNN.
According to CNN, “This is a time of year when Mexicans normally gear up to celebrate Three Kings Day, when children traditionally receive holiday gifts. But the sudden gas price hike is dampening the mood in a country where the economy is already struggling.”
The San Diego Reader has reported over 5 deaths in Tijuana due to the increase in gas prices, “ Families started to stockpile gasoline in their homes, depleting gas stations. Citizens reportedly looted gas stations and stores, resulting in over 600 arrests and 5 deaths.”
The mayhem is so great that, “There have been reports of policemen joining the ransacking.”
The inflation does not only affect the southern country, the chaos is making it difficult for travel. In San Ysidro, the border was closed down ceasing all cars and people from crossing into the United States.
Janeth Miranda Escobedo, 17 and a resident of Tijuana lives right by the San Ysidro border and has seen that, “están cerrando las gasolineras por falta de gasolina y hay varios casos de violencia por medio de los compradores a los encargados.” [They have closed gas stations due to a lack of gasoline and there has been several cases of violence from the consumers towards the managers.]
Escobedo mainly commutes through public transportation and has noticed, “están cerrando calles por las largas filas y están cruzando al otro lado. Los taxis y el Uber están cobrando más y casi no están disponibles. ya están trayendo mas gasolina y no está tan grave.” [Roads have been closed due to the long lines of cars trying to cross into the U.S. Taxis and Uber are now charging higher rates and are very hard to come by. However, more gas is being brought into the situation has reached a more mellow stage.’]