Mexican Catholic officials called for calm as angry protests over hikes in the government-set petrol price consume the country.
Senior clergy also called for federal officials to show sensitivity toward the plight of millions of poor and middle-class Mexicans, struggling to make ends meet, as the country’s sinking currency erodes their purchasing power and higher prices for petrol could increase costs for basics such as food and transportation.
‘We urge (citizens) to channel their discontent, understandable as it is, through peaceful, respectful and creative expressions,’ the Mexican bishops’ conference said in a statement. ‘We urge the civil authorities to seriously reconsider – given the national context and international variables – this measure, which affects everyone in our country, especially the poor.’
Outrage erupted almost immediately after the government announced increases of more than 20 per cent, implemented on 1st January due to deregulation of the petrol distribution and retailing market. The protests included peaceful marches throughout the country for more than a week, although media reported the looting of at least 250 stores.
Mexicans say they cannot absorb the increased cost of petrol, even those not owning a car.
“They say they’re going to raise the price of petrol and electricity … and I only make 100 pesos (£4) per day,” said Alejandro Montes de Oca, a protesting janitor, who pays 40 per cent of his wage on public transportation each day.
Picture: People are seen looting stores in Actopan, Mexico, on 4th January, during a protest against increasing petrol prices. (CNS photo/Ulises Naranjo, EPA).