Tijuana Gas Protests Temporarily Shut Down Southbound Vehicle Border Crossing
Unrest in Northern Baja Leads to Gas Station Closures, Port Of Entry Blockades
This story was updated on 7:04 p.m. on Sunday.
Protests of rising gas prices in Tijuana led to the temporary closure of southbound vehicle lanes at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing in San Ysidro on Saturday afternoon. The protests and the closure were repeated on Sunday.
Dozens of people created a blockade of southbound vehicle lanes to protest the rising gas prices on Saturday. Updated traffic information can be found at the 511 San Diego region website.
Tijuana gas stations are shutting down due to blockades of Pemex supply centers, including a major facility in Rosarito. Protests took place on Friday and continued Saturday and Sunday, with protesters confronting police in Tijuana and Rosarito. Some protests turned violent.
Mexicans are having trouble finding a single open gas station in Tijuana. Those who have U.S. immigration status or dual citizenship are crossing the border to fill their tanks in south San Diego County.
Angeles Lanz, a 58-year-old Mexican woman, was in a long lines of cars, many of them with Mexican license plates, formed outside of two adjacent gas stations on San Ysidro Boulevard on Friday.
"There's no gas over there, it's all blocked off, the gas stations are shut down," Lanz said.
Mexico’s gas prices jumped 15-20 percent nationwide in the new year as the government moved forward with deregulations of the oil industry, including the removal of some oil subsidies. Mexico has had government-controlled gas prices for nearly a century.
Protests erupted across Mexico, resulting in several deaths and hundreds of arrests.
Protests so far have been more peaceful in Baja California than in other parts of Mexico. But on Saturday thousands of protesters confronted police in Tijuana, near the border crossing, and in the northern section of Rosarito. TV Station canal176 showed a pickup truck in Rosarito plow into a line of federal police, dressed in riot gear and carrying shields. Some protesters were throwing rocks at police.
Tijuana resident Charlotte Garcia pulled up to a Pemex gas station in Tijuana on Friday. Orange cones and out-of-service signs were placed in front of the filling stations.
"There's no gas?" she asked an attendant, her mouth agape.
"No, there's no gas," he said.
"Um, the airport?"
"No they don't have none, there's no gas anywhere!"
She showed a KPBS reporter the displays on her car's dashboard. Her gas tank was running on empty.
"I lost all my gas looking for gas," she said.
Protestors have been organizing on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #gasolinazo to refer to the gas hike.
David Kennedy-Cooley, a Rosarito resident, was one of dozens of protestors on Friday blocking tanks from leaving or entering a major Pemex supply center in Rosarito. He called the government "corrupt," and said he hoped the protests would force officials to re-evaluate their decision to privatize the oil industry.
"Let me put it in perspective," he said. "It takes me about 75 dollars to fill my tank, and my salary is less than a hundred bucks a week. So I'm spending all my money on gas, and I still gotta feed my child, I still gotta pay rent, I still gotta get to work. And it's just not enough. Our government just doesn't understand."
Some of the protests in Mexico, including Veracruz and Mexico City, have escalated into violent clashes, with looting and allegations of beatings by both police and protestors. Kennedy-Cooley called himself a "pacifist" but said he was worried about the future.
"This is going to affect the U.S. too," he said. "You don't want a civil war next to the border, and that's where we're going if you see what's going on down south in (Mexico City)."