Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico petrol price protests descend into looting

Dozens of people loot shops during an alleged protest against the increase in the gas prices, in the port of Veracruz, Mexico, 04 January 2017. Image copyright EPA
Image caption In Veracruz, looters made off with TV sets

Police in Mexico have arrested more than 250 people for looting shops and barricading roads amid protests over a rise in petrol prices.

The government raised petrol prices by up to 20% on 1 January as part of a gradual, year-long price liberalisation.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said the increase was "a necessary measure".

A litre of premium petrol now costs 18 pesos ($0.85; £0.70) in Mexico City.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The price hike, dubbed "gasolinazo", has caused anger in many parts of the country

Following the price hike, the average price of a gallon of petrol is almost as much as the daily minimum wage.

The raise has caused outrage among people dependent on petrol for their jobs such as taxi, lorry and delivery drivers.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said 23 shops had been looted and almost 30 barricades set up in the capital.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Lorry drivers blocked some of the main highways leading into Mexico City
Image copyright EPA
Image caption More than 250 people were arrested for vandalism and looting

There were also protests in surrounding Mexico state and in Hidalgo and Michoacan, to the north and east of the capital, and the port city of Veracruz.

"These acts are outside the law and have nothing to do with peaceful protest nor freedom of expression," Deputy Interior Minister Rene Juarez said.

Environment Secretary Rafael Pacchiano defended the price hike in an opinion piece [in Spanish] published in the Excelsior newspaper.

He said Mexico's subsidies had led to the country becoming the world's fourth largest consumer of petrol and had caused environmental damage.

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