MEXICO CITY Jan 4 Mexicans angry over a
double-digit hike in gasoline prices looted stores and blockaded
roads on Wednesday, prompting over 250 arrests amid escalating
unrest over the rising cost of living in Latin America's second
Twenty-three stores were sacked and 27 blockades put up in
Mexico City, Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said, days after the
government raised gasoline costs by 14 to 20 percent, outraging
Mexicans already battling rising inflation and a weak currency.
Mexican retailers' association ANTAD urged federal and state
authorities to intervene quickly, saying 79 stores had been
sacked and 170 forcibly closed due to blockades.
Deputy interior Minister Rene Juarez said over 250 people
had been arrested for vandalism and that federal authorities
were working with security officials in Mexico City and the
nearby states of Mexico and Hidalgo to address the unrest.
"These acts are outside the law and have nothing to do with
peaceful protest nor freedom of expression," Juarez said in a
press conference late on Wednesday.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said earlier on
Wednesday that the price spike that took effect on Jan. 1 was a
"responsible" measure that the government took in line with
international oil prices.
The hike is part of a gradual, year-long price
liberalization the Pena Nieto administration has promised to
implement this year.
State oil company Pemex said on Tuesday that blockades of
fuel storage terminals by protesters had led to a "critical
situation" in at least three Mexican states.
(Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by