Last week hundreds of activists took over a major toll highway in the state of Mexico and allowed drivers to pass through free of charge. Farmworkers and agricultural producers took over municipal offices in the state of Chihuahua and in one occasion forced the municipal workers to evacuate. These are just two examples of the mass actions – which include demonstrations of tens of thousands – rising up all throughout Mexico causing the closure of gas stations, municipal buildings and highways.
Since January 1, thousands of Mexicans – adolescents, workers from all sectors, union leaders and farmers – have taken to the streets to protest the 20 percent hike in gasoline prices. The price hike comes at a time when 45 percent of the population is living in poverty. As a TeleSur reporter described it, the 20 percent price hike means that it would take the equivalent of 12 days of a minimum wage salary to fill a tank of gas. Much of the population makes even less than the minimum wage, making this price a hike an outrageous violation of the rights of the people.
The government’s repression against the uprising has been fierce. At least six people have been killed, and hundreds more wounded and arrested. Despite these attacks, the struggle continues.
Since Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in 2012, his neoliberal policies and initiatives have caused a downward spiral in the quality of life for many Mexicans, especially the poorest. Under Peña Nieto, the number of people living in poverty increased by 2 million, unemployment and state repression, as witnessed in the cases of Ayotzinapa and the teacher protests early in 2016, have reached new extremes. While the Mexican people are suffering, Peña Nieto has insisted on pushing through neoliberal policies that benefit the capitalists while furthering the people’s suffering and poverty.
The 20 percent price hike on gasoline is just his latest attack. In December 2015, Peña Nieto announced that PEMEX, the national petroleum company, would be privatized in order to allow for other gasolines companies to compete in the market. What this meant was that the government would remove the fixed price on gasoline and would instead be sold at market rate to the people.
The privatization of Mexico’s oil industry has been in gestation for many years. The U.S. government has played a key role in pushing American puppet Peña Nieto and the Mexican oligarchy in this direction. With PEMEX being deregulated and privatized, its reserves are up for grabs.
The large U.S oil companies are waiting for their chance to gain control of these reserves and some companies have already begun to. It is a process that will greatly benefit these major corporations given that Mexico has one of the largest oil natural gas reserves in Latin America. This is just an attempt by capitalists to take hold of the resources that they had not yet been able to seize.
The price hike has already had a terrible effect on the Mexican people. It is predicted that it will soon have devastating effects on the cost of food and employment.
We stand in solidarity with the Mexican people who are protesting against the Mexican oligarchy and greedy American oil tycoons. We stand with them as they fight for the energy resources that belong to them. We support their right to demonstrate their outrage and demand that the government make better decisions regarding their livelihood.