Wednesday 20 September 2017

Two dead and 700 arrested in Mexico following violent protests over petrol prices

A woman holds a stick as she and other neighbors try to prevent looting in the port city of Veracruz, Mexico, Thursday Jan. 5, 2017. Anger over gasoline prices hikes in Mexico fueled more protests and looting Thursday, and officials said the unrest had resulted in the deaths of several people and the arrests of hundreds.(AP Photo/Felix Marquez)
A woman holds a stick as she and other neighbors try to prevent looting in the port city of Veracruz, Mexico, Thursday Jan. 5, 2017. Anger over gasoline prices hikes in Mexico fueled more protests and looting Thursday, and officials said the unrest had resulted in the deaths of several people and the arrests of hundreds.(AP Photo/Felix Marquez)
State police stand guard in a parked vehicle next to Plaza de las Americas shopping center in Ecatepec, on the outskirts of Mexico City, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. Security forces are out as protests and looting over gasoline price hikes in Mexico continue. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
Demonstrators hold up placards during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
Policemen take position to protect the Government Palace after it was vandalised by demonstrators during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
Demonstrators hold up placards during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
Demonstrators vandalise the Government Palace during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
A demonstrator argues with policemen during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man urges fellow demonstrators to calm down as they vandalise the Government Palace during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government, at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
A woman reacts next to a reporter injured by an improvised bomb during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
Demonstrators look at the flipped vehicles of TV networks Televisa and TV Azteca, vandalised during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
Demonstrators destroy the vehicle of Multimedios TV network during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey , Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
Demonstrators gather around a flipped vehicle of Multimedios TV network during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
Demonstrators push over a vehicle of Multimedios TV network during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
Policemen spray water to demonstrators during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government, at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

Mark Stevenson

Anger over petrol price hikes in Mexico has fuelled protests and looting, with the unrest causing the death of a policeman and a bystander.

More than 700 people have been arrested, while 300 shops were ransacked by people enraged by a 20% fuel price rise announced at the weekend as part of a government deregulation of the energy sector.

The country's business chambers said the combination of highway, port and terminal blockades and looting this week forced many stores and businesses to close and threatened supplies of basic goods and fuel.

The scenes of mass lootings came as parents faced the last shopping day to get presents for their children before the January 6 Epiphany or Three Kings Day holiday.

Demonstrators look at the flipped vehicles of TV networks Televisa and TV Azteca, vandalised during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
Demonstrators look at the flipped vehicles of TV networks Televisa and TV Azteca, vandalised during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

While acknowledging the anger, President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Thursday he would forge ahead with the deregulated price scheme, which would do away with fuel subsidies and allow the cost of petrol to be determined by prevailing international prices.

"I know that allowing gasoline to rise to its international price is a difficult change, but as president, my job is to precisely make difficult decisions now, in order to avoid worse consequences in the future," he said in a televised address.

A man urges fellow demonstrators to calm down as they vandalise the Government Palace during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government, at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
A man urges fellow demonstrators to calm down as they vandalise the Government Palace during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government, at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

"Keeping gas prices artificially low would mean taking money away from the poorest Mexicans, and giving it to those who have the most."

Demonstrators hold up placards during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
Demonstrators hold up placards during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
A woman holds a stick as she and other neighbors try to prevent looting in the port city of Veracruz, Mexico, Thursday Jan. 5, 2017. Anger over gasoline prices hikes in Mexico fueled more protests and looting Thursday, and officials said the unrest had resulted in the deaths of several people and the arrests of hundreds.(AP Photo/Felix Marquez)
A woman holds a stick as she and other neighbors try to prevent looting in the port city of Veracruz, Mexico, Thursday Jan. 5, 2017. Anger over gasoline prices hikes in Mexico fueled more protests and looting Thursday, and officials said the unrest had resulted in the deaths of several people and the arrests of hundreds.(AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

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