Mexico gas and water hikes spark anti-government protests

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Over forty thousand demonstrators take to the streets in Mexicali to protest the gasoline price hikes in Mexico. Photo by Viva Mexicali

MEXICALI, B.C. — Thousands of demonstrators protested against Mexico’s 20 percent gasoline and water price increase on Sunday in the city of Mexicali at the Civic Center, in an attempt to force Mexican President Enrique Peñanieto to resign along with his government.

Over 45,000 protesters were present in Mexicali and over 69,000 in total across Baja California, according to La Cronica.

Demonstrators arrived shortly after 12:00 p.m. and gathered outside the government buildings, waiving Mexican flags, posters and banners with slogans such as “we are tired of the corruption in Mexico,” “Enrique Peñanieto we want you out,” and “enough is enough,” expressing their repudiation against the Mexican government and their decisions.

The protest had a duration of close to six hours in which demonstrators took turns expressing their frustration at makeshift stage while repeatedly asking the president to resign. Protesters also demanded the resignation of Mexicali Governor Francisco (Kiko) Vega de la Madrid, saying he was a disgrace to the Mexicali community.

“Kiko Vega you are not a governor, you and your government need to give back the money you stole,” said one protester. “PEMEX is ours. The money generated needs to be in the pockets of the hard-working Mexican people, not in your pockets.”

Among the thousands were numerous senior citizens who spoke of their necessities and the lack of assistance available to them.

Others pointed out luxuries government officials have and enjoy, while the hard working laborers struggle to survive with the country’s minimum wage.

“We need to put a stop to the privileges government officials have with their expensive homes and luxuries,” said Dolores Limon Jaramillo, a protester. “No more corrupted government, we want them out.”

Sunday became a historical event after the border towns of Tijuana, Oaxaca, Cuernavaca, Veracruz, Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Guerrero, Tampico, Hermosillo, Puebla, San Luis Potosi and many others across Mexico joined the nation’s mega march by blocking roads and entrances and exit doors of governmental buildings to show unity.

Despite the thousands of protesters, the demonstration in Mexicali was peaceful with no altercations or violence reported as of Sunday evening. According to organizers, protests are expected to continue throughout Mexico in hopes the Mexican governments will either resign or come to an agreement with the Mexican population.

Protests began on January 1, after the Mexican government announced water rates and gasoline prices in Mexico were raised by 20 percent, immediately prompting demonstrations throughout the state.

Following the announcement, hundreds of unhappy local residents made their way to the supply plant of PEMEX in West Mexicali (La Rosita), blocking the local roads needed to transport fuel. By January 8, most of the gasoline stations across Mexicali were closed leaving residents with no option other than crossing the international border to the sister city of Calexico, CA.

For various days, extended lines formed at numerous gasoline stations in the cities of Calexico and Heber; some to the extent of drivers pushing their vehicles across the border. On January 11, PEMEX began distributing fuel to Mexicali gasoline stations, slowly returning the demand to normal.

Mexican President Penanieto has called “gasolinazo,” as the price increase is known, a necessary measure. However, thousands of protesters throughout Mexico have clearly rejected the price increase with riots, violence, burnings, and looting.

The steep price increase has impacted the poorest more than anyone. Currently the cost of one gallon of gasoline in Mexico is $3.60, about 90 percent of Mexico’s newly increased minimum wage, which is now 80 pesos – or about $4 for a full day’s work.

 

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