MEXICO CITY Jan 10 Mexico's oil company, Pemex,
is struggling to supply gas stations around the northern border
city of Mexicali because of a blockade at a storage site, part
of a wave of sometimes violent protests and looting over a
gasoline price hike.
In a post on its Twitter page, Pemex said its ability to
supply gas stations in Mexicali, just across the border from
California, had reached "critical levels" because of the
blockade of its key local storage plant.
"No gas stations have any inventory," said Rodrigo Llantada,
president of the regional chapter of industry chamber Coparmex,
adding the blockade began on Wednesday.
Protests since the Jan. 1 double-digit fuel price spike have
exposed deep anger with President Enrique Pena Nieto over rising
living costs fanned by a slump in the peso currency following
Republican Donald Trump's U.S. presidential victory.
Protesters have looted dozens of gas stations and
supermarkets across the country. Nearly 2,000 people have been
arrested for suspected involvement in related property damage
On Saturday, a truck drove into a line of federal police,
injuring five, during clashes at another blockaded storage
terminal in Baja California, while local media reported that
shots were fired during protests on Sunday in the city of
Nogales, across the border from Arizona.
The government has defended the hike as necessary to end
subsidies on fuels through a gradual, year-long price
liberalization that will free up resources for social spending.
Mexicali, a one-time agricultural outpost built up by
Chinese immigrants a century ago, is now a sprawl of industrial
plants stretching into the surrounding desert that supply the
Multinationals in the Baja California city manufacture
everything from Coca-Cola drinks to Apple
smartphone chips and sections of Boeing's latest jet
"The assembly plant industry is at risk, and the operations
of the whole productive sector," Llantada said.
Residents took to social media to pass on information about
where to find fuel, with some braving long lines to cross the
border to Calexico, California, to fill up their vehicles.
Leticia Tellaeche, 62, said she was angry both with the
government for raising prices and with the protesters for making
the situation worse.
"They should let the gasoline through, don't be fools, we
know that whatever they do the prices are not coming down," said
Tellaeche, adding she had taken to using a bicycle to save fuel.
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Lizbeth Garcia; Editing by
Frank Jack Daniel and Peter Cooney)