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Mexico gasoline protests: president insists there’s no alternative to price hike

January 6, 2017
President Enrique Peña Nieto has the lowest approval ratings in over 20 years.

Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto has the lowest approval ratings in over 20 years.

Mexico’s beleaguered president Enrique Peña Nieto has once again become the target of public anger after attempting to defend a 20% hike in gasoline prices that has provoked a wave of violent demonstration and looting across the country this week.

At least 987 people had been arrested after the fifth day of unrest, which has spread to at least 14 of Mexico 32 states, according to the Animal Politíco news site.

Officials said three people were killed amidst looting in the eastern state of Veracruz on Thursday and a police officer was killed on Wednesday while trying to prevent robberies at a gas station in Mexico City.

In a televised address to the nation on Thursday night, Peña Nieto insisted that there was no alternative to the hike announced on 1 January as part of government deregulation of the energy sector.

“Allowing gasoline to rise to its international price is a difficult change, but as president, my job is to precisely make difficult decisions now, in order to avoid worse consequences in the future,” he said. “Keeping petrol prices artificially low would mean taking money away from the poorest Mexicans, and giving it to those who have the most.”

Peña Nieto, who took office in 2012, has the lowest approval ratings of any Mexican president in over two decades and has been widely criticised over his handling of corruption scandals, the 2014 disappearance of 43 student teachers, and Mexico’s sluggish economic performance, despite having passed reforms that he promised would bring lower energy prices…

Click here to read this article in full at The Guardian

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