MEXICO CITY – A movement that includes several peasant organizations on Tuesday rejected the fuel price increase that took effect on New Year’s Day and called for protests and a national strike.
“The decision to raise the price of gasoline and diesel, as well as the increase in electric energy and gas, confirms the failure of economic policy as a consequence of the ambitions and waste of a governmental apparatus that puts no end to its looting,” the “El campo es de todos” (The Countryside Belongs to All) movement said in a statement.
On Sunday, the price of gasoline and diesel rose between 14 percent and 20 percent, setting off protests across Mexico.
Peasant leaders said in a press conference in the Zocalo, Mexico City’s main plaza, that the hike in fuel prices was a blow to households, which have been hit hard by increases in public transit fares and a rise in the cost of the basic basket of essential goods.
The ones hurt most by the government’s measures are consumers, farmers and average people because those with higher incomes will pass on the increases to them in the form of price increases and inflation, CEMPA leader Jose Narro said.
“The income levels of these sectors are minimal, insufficient, and a small increase is substantial,” Narro said.
Peasant leaders called for a national strike on Jan. 30 as the final in a series of protests that will start on Friday with the occupation of the toll plazas on the highways leading into Mexico City from Toluca, Puebla, Cuernavaca, Pachuca and Queretaro.
The protests over the hike in gasoline prices that took effect on New Year’s Day have grown across Mexico, with truckers, transportation workers, grassroots activists and others joining what is shaping up as a new movement against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration.
The biggest demonstration so far took place in Guadalajara, the capital of the western state of Jalisco, where people took to the streets across the metropolitan area Monday to protest the rise in fuel prices, blocking some of the main thoroughfares in the area.
The protests were organized over social media by grassroots groups, drawing people from a wide range of occupations.
Protesters prevented some politicians who wanted to participate in the march from joining them.
The National Citizens Council gathered thousands of signatures on a petition to remove federal lawmakers from office for “failing to represent the interests of the people,” attorney Carlos Tapia, one of the organization’s representatives, told EFE.
Even the Guadalajara Chamber of Commerce released a statement expressing its “energetic rejection” of the fuel price hikes.
On Monday, protests took place in 29 of Mexico’s 32 states, with demonstrators blocking highways, marching through the streets and staging sit-ins at facilities belonging to state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and National Tax Administration offices.
Peña Nieto, who took office in 2012 and still has two years left in his six-year term, has seen his approval rating drop to around 30 percent.