Week of widespread protests ends on more peaceful note
Thousands of people marched over the weekend in at least six states in peaceful demonstrations against the Peña Nieto government’s steep increase in gasoline and diesel prices that went into effect Sunday Jan. 1.
More than 1,000 marched in Mexico City where among the messages was the demand that cutbacks be applied to parties’ and legislators’ expenses. “Fewer Deputies, fewer Senators,” the crowd chanted.
In Puebla, an estimated 3,000 marched; in Tapachula, Chiapas, the number was estimated at 1,000. In downtown Merida, about 200 protesters turned out in front of City Hall.
In Toluca one protester carried a sign asking, “What would I do?” mimicking President Enrique Peña Nieto’s question in his recent videotaped address to the nation, in which he asked Mexicans what they would do instead.
The sign bore the answer, “Reduce politicians’ salaries!”
Some businesses dropped their metal curtains fearing looters but none appeared, and marchers called out “No violence” as they advanced.
There were few reports of looters or vandalism Sunday, but as of last night the association representing department stores and supermarkets said 423 had been victims of looting.
The State of México saw the worst of the violence with 170 stores being targeted, 40% of the state’s total. Veracruz was next with 80 stores affected, followed by Chiapas with 60, Hidalgo 59, Puebla 21, Mexico City 14, Querétaro 11 and Nuevo León eight.
The Interior Secretariat said last night that more than 1,500 people had been detained in connection with acts of vandalism.
Much of the violence is believed to have been incited by rumors designed to create panic which have been posted on social media.
In Veracruz, where 532 were reported to have been arrested as of Sunday, things were calming down, said Governor Miguel Ángel Yunes, after looters stole food, electronics, clothing and appliances.
He also said that 600 taxi concessions had been canceled after the vehicles were used to transport looted merchandise.
Many of the week’s protests had focused on Pemex storage and distribution facilities, causing gasoline supply problems in many states. But authorities said as of last night 95% of those facilities were operating normally.
Police have clashed several times during the week with protesters, vandals and looters. Those confrontations have left at least six people dead.