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Gas Price Protesters Gather In Solidarity At Mexican Consulate In San Diego

Protesters Gather At The Mexican Consulate In San Diego

Analyzing Mexico's Increased Gas Prices

GUEST:

Ev Meade, director, Trans Border Institute at University of San Diego

Transcript

Protesters gathered in front of the Mexican Consulate in San Diego Monday, in a show of solidarity with people in Mexico who are protesting a recent 20 percent hike in gasoline prices.

The gas price hikes took effect on New Year's Day.

“Mexico is going to start giving leases to foreign oil companies for the first time since Mexico nationalized its oil in 1938,” said Ev Meade, director of the Trans Border Institute at University of San Diego. “Part of the idea is, look, we're heavily subsidizing gasoline and it’s not sustainable for the future. The president of Mexico's argument is that this takes money away from social programs that could go to the poor and eventually we're going to have to come to terms with this so let's do it now and phase it in."

The Sonora state government said late Sunday two police officers were injured and two protesters were arrested in the confrontation at the border rail crossing in Nogales.

Authorities said officers who tried to break up the blockade were attacked with rocks for about three hours and responded by "firing rubber bullets into the air."

Video aired by local media showed officers firing shotguns — commonly used to launch bean bags or rubber projectiles — at rock-tossing demonstrators.

The government said 11 trainloads with about 1,000 cars of merchandise headed for the United States were backed up by the protest. It said the blockade had threatened to temporarily shut down Ford Motor Co.'s stamping and assembly plant in Hermosillo.

On Monday, President Enrique Pena Nieto brought together labor and business leaders to talk about softening the gas price hike's blow to Mexican families. He said business leaders were committed to not allowing indiscriminate price increases passed off as due to gas prices.

"If you look at the base line cost of living, the minimum wage in Mexico is only about $5 a day," Meade said. "So a 20 percent increase in the price of gas for people who are on the margins, or just making it, it’s pretty significant. More important though, it comes at a time when the peso is in crisis."

Within hours of the meeting, several thousand people marched along Mexico City main boulevard calling for Pena Nieto's resignation and burning him and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in effigy.

In the border state of Baja California, the state tourism department acknowledged Sunday that gas stations there had run out of gas due to protest blockades of a distribution terminal in previous days, but said that supplies had been re-established.

Related: Tijuana Gas Protests Shut Down Southbound Vehicle Border Crossing

On Saturday, a lone protester drove his truck into a line of police guarding a fuel distribution terminal in Baja California. Federal police said seven officers were injured in the incident in Rosarito, near the border city of Tijuana.

Protests have largely been peaceful, and the looting seen last week has largely subsided. Hundreds of businesses were ransacked and more than 1,500 people were detained during that unrest.

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