Political tensions in Mexico have reached fever pitch after a 20% state-set rise in gas prices caused protests across the nation. Following the rhetoric from President-elect Trump about trade relations between the US and Mexico, the peso has plummeted to an all-time low against the dollar, with the government already under fire for corruption and collusion with the drug cartels that plague the country.
As Mexico simmers towards boiling point, it’s emerging the “gazolinazo” is just the beginning of Mexico’s problems, and that the imminent political revolution is set to reveal much deeper issues in Mexico.
Turn to the next page to understand more about this protest in Mexico, and the political turmoil that lies beneath the surface of the people’s discontent. Protests have broken out all over Mexico after gas prices rose 20% thanks to the government, and it appears that there’s plenty more ammunition for political turmoil.
During the protests, six people have died and 400 people have been arrested, but the protests have been mostly peaceful, with activists generally blaming government infiltrators for any acts of aggression during the “gazolinazo”. One activist who wished to remain anonymous hinted that there’s way more at play than just gas prices:
“A lot of people think it’s only the gasoline prices, but the price of gas is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. It all started with Ayotzinapa.”
Ayotzinapa refers to Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher’s College and the Iguala mass kidnapping, where 43 students went missing in September 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero, after they commandeered a bus to commemorate the anniversary of the Tlatelolco Massacre in 1968. In the aftermath of the event, as many as 44 police officers were arrested in relation to the disappearances, and though most of the students are yet to be found, the remains of two students abducted were identified by experts at the University of Innsbruck.
It’s just one example of how the Mexican people have been sold short by their government. The gasoline price hike coincided with the news that politicians will receive an $11,000 boost in their salaries, but the minimum wage in Mexico remains just $4 a day. The cost of public transport is said to be the cause of many students to drop out of high school, and inflation has hit a two-year high of 3.36%.
Ilán Semo, historian at the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City, is outraged at how the government has treated Mexicans, calling it “an affront to people”:
“There are policy errors [and] corruption. But normally it’s not something that hits people’s pocketbooks. To Mexicans, politics represents the best business of your life. They see public positions as a system of accumulating private riches.”
President Enrique Peña Nieto has called for patience in an address to the public following the “gazolinazo”, insisting that there was no other option than to hike gas prices.
“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. Keeping petrol prices artificially low would mean taking money away from the poorest Mexicans, and giving it to those who have the most.”
His intention may have been to placate the Mexican people, but Peña Nieto has the lowest approval rating of any Mexican president in 20 years, and it’s looking increasingly likely that the tensions in Mexico are set to heighten.
North of the border, the incumbent Donald Trump based a lot of his presidential campaign on US-Mexico relations; focusing most famously, on a wall set to keep illegal immigrants entering America. In an interview following his successful candidacy, however, Donald Trump revealed the truth about the Mexican wall.