Mexico Plunges into Fresh Crisis as Fury Swells over Gas Prices
Despite the holiday season and entertaining stories about Rubi's quinceñera, the people of Mexico are entering the New Year in a state of rage and anxiety, with protests planned for Sunday to strongly denounce the government's huge hike in gasoline prices. The strong rise in prices has been called the "gasolinazo" in Spanish, which roughly translates to "gasoline-punch."
Unpopular President Enrique Pena Nieto has promised that fuel prices will fall thanks to his neoliberal 2014 energy reforms, which dismantled the seven-decade-old national ownership of petroleum resources by state-owned firm Pemex.
The government plans to end subsidies and let the market dictate prices in March, but the already-strained Mexican people will feel the pinch at the pump before they start falling.
The finance ministry announced Tuesday that the price of gasoline would increase by as much as 20.1 percent to 88 cents per liter on Jan. 1, while diesel would rise by 16.5 percent to 83 cents.
The price ceiling will be adjusted daily starting Feb. 18, before letting supply and demand determine them in March.
Around 100 protestors blocked a service station in the Pacific Coast resort of Acapulco on Friday, while on Saturday an assembly of popular organizations in Chihuahua state's capital pledged to block all commercial transportation from entering or exiting the city as a means toward paralyzing the economy and pressuring the federal government to reverse the hikes. The assembly of people's organizations also announced their intention to block major highways and railways in response to what they see as a neoliberal looting of Mexico and handover of its resources to private capital, according to a statement.