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Mexico: Government Unlikely to Bend on Fuel Price Hikes Amid Protests

Mexico: Government Unlikely to Bend on Fuel Price Hikes Amid Protests

Some department stores have closed down before Dia de Reyes, a traditional Hispanic religious holiday that celebrates the three kings bringing presents for the baby Jesus, on January 6.

Two people were found dead amid looting in the port city of Veracruz. Officials also said that around 1,700 businesses have been looted over the past two days.

He said the government could not maintain "artificial" prices as the global price of oil rose previous year.

The increases in pump prices are part of an energy reform package introduced in 2013 by President Enrique Peña Nieto that will allow foreign companies to sell gasoline in Mexico for the first time in 80 years, while eliminating the national oil company's monopoly on drilling. "Keeping gas prices artificially low would mean taking money away from the poorest Mexicans, and giving it to those who have the most".

Peña Nieto said the other big challenge for Mexico in 2017 was to "build a positive relationship with the new USA administration", something he said would be done with Mexico's "unbreakable dignity".

Looting and protests have erupted in several Mexican states in response to the Mexican government's changes in gas sales.

"The information that we have so far shown that these thefts are perpetrated by neighbors, people who live next to the place they attack", Mexico City's government secretary Patricia Mercado said during a radio interview. He offered the crowd coupons for 500 pesos ($23.25).

In Mexico State, which borders Mexico City, 529 people had been detained as suspected looters. An association for the stores said Wednesday that about 79 had been looted - and there is no sign the vandals will stop.

Officials said numerous looting incidents were promoted through social media.

Fewer highway blockades were reported on Friday.

People from Reynosa in Hidalgo County described a sudden spike in demand for gasoline after the Mexican government changed its price. That makes 4 litres, or about a gallon, equal to almost as much as Mexico's just raised minimum wage for a day's work - 80 pesos (about $4). The president of the National Chamber of Commerce, Services and Tourism, Humberto Lozano, said that almost 20,000 stores closed in Mexico City, costing more than $2 million in sales during a normally popular holiday shopping period, according to the Milenio news site.

In the city of Veracruz, 50 establishments including convenience stores, supermarkets and big-box outlets suffered looting, according to a preliminary count by the local chamber of commerce.

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