MEXICO CITY – Police have arrested 161 people for acts of vandalism during protests over rising fuel prices in the state of Mexico.
In a statement on Wednesday, the state government said 126 people, 106 men and 20 women, and 35 minors, including 5 girls, were arrested for various acts of vandalism in several commercial establishments in the municipalities of Acolman, Ecatepec, Naucalpan, Nicolas Romero, Tultepec and Tecamac, and denied rumors of a curfew in the region.
The statement said “false messages, publications, and audio are circulating on social networks about an alleged curfew or presence of armed groups in some municipalities” whose sole purpose is to generate psychosis and fear among people.
Eyewitnesses in Ecatepec, however, told EFE, malls and stores were being looted in the area and the police have not intervened to stop the assaults.
“It’s a really horrible thing. They were opening a curtain of Copel, looting an Aurrera store,” said Victor, a resident.
“They are boys, ladies, this is out of context, they are stealing and not because of gasoline,” he said.
The government says the crisis over gasoline has been exploited by certain groups to commit thefts and acts of vandalism and appealed to the people to disregard false propaganda.
It also reiterated its respect for free expression, but warned that illegal acts and those that threaten people will not be tolerated.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto promised on Wednesday to take tough action against the escalation of protests over rising fuel prices that saw several acts of vandalism and blocking of roads and stations of Mexican Petroleums in several parts of the country.