A new wave of protests against a hike in gas prices in Mexico began Sunday, as the nationwide mobilizations enter its second week and spread to at least 25 states.
Because of the protests, that are blocking highways throughout Mexico, freeways in California are being affected and some are again being closed Sunday night. The southbound 5 and 805 freeways which lead to the San Ysidro Port of Entry are being closed, according to the California Highway Patrol. Cars that are traveling to Mexico will have to go via 905 Freeway to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
On Saturday, thousands marched across 15 of 31 states in the country and the Federal District. Among the largest demonstrations were 20,000 protesters who gathered in Puebla, 5,000 in Guadalajara and 1,000 in Tapachula.
Since the protests broke out beginning on Jan. 1, clashes between police and protesters and looting have left six people dead, 1,500 arrested, 420 businesses affected and several roads blocked.
The government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced in the last week of December that the price of gasoline would spike by 20 percent and diesel by 16 percent. Peña Nieto has said that the price hikes are the only option available and that the cost changes respond to international prices and are not a result of his neoliberal reforms.
However, despite the international prices Peña Nieto referred to, 40 countries around the world have not increased gas prices, and seven nations have lowered them, according to a report by Global Petrol Prices.
The hike in Mexico’s gasoline and diesel is the fifth largest in the world, only topped by Zambia with 32.7 percent, Egypt with 30.6, and Georgia and Malaysia with 20.6 percent each, according to the same organization.
The change in Mexico boosted the average price for a liter of premium gasoline to almost a dollar. That makes 4 liters, or about a gallon, equal to nearly as much as Mexico's minimum wage for a day's work, about US$4. This is despite the fact that the president’s Energy Reform promised to decrease the prices of gasoline and diesel.