MEXICO CITY— Mexicans are getting an early start to the New Year by taking to the streets and social media to protest a double-digit gas price hike known as el gasolinazo. Hundreds of demonstrators are blocking highways, raiding gas stations, and looting stores as pump prices surge by 15-20% across the country.
The unrest has caused some gas stations to close altogether. Antonio Caballero, who heads a network of 800 gas stations, said at a press conference this week he will temporarily close any filling station threatened by violent protesters.
But it’s not just gas stations that are being targeted. Some protesters have used the gasolinazo as an excuse to loot supermarkets and other stores in several states.
Adding to some of the chaos on the streets is a wave of fake news and threats on social media perpetuating rumors about a curfew on Wednesday, pushing some businesses to temporarily close two days before Mexico’s Día de Reyes, a religious holiday that normally has parents flocking to stores to buy toys for their kids.
Mexicans’ collective anger over the situation is being directed mostly at President Enrique Peña Nieto, who in 2015 had promised that country’s frequent pump price hikes would end with his much-touted finance and energy reform plans.