Tuesday 10 January 2017 The protests over what Mexicans call "Gasolinazo" the 14-22% price increase for fuel products has begun to fade across Mexico and over the weekend most of the protests across Mexico remained peaceful. On the Mexican mainland, more than 400 stores were looted and more than 1500 people arrested. Fuel supplies are beginning to return to normal in the regions served by the Rosarito distribution center where more intense protests occurred.
Here in Baja, we had multiple protests across the peninsula and over the weekend more than 140 people were arrested at the Rosarito Pemex distribution facility. The only significant act of violence occurred there this weekend, as well as a driver plowed into security personnel at about 25mph into a barricade injuring 6 state police, one of them seriously. In Baja California Sur there have been no significant incidents, the blockade of the roadways to Pichilingue
On the Federal level, the Secretary of Transportation & Communication announced that trucks continuing to block roadways across the nation will be subject to loss of their federal transport permits beginning today.
The plans for opening the petroleum market have been underway for some time, as part of the NAFTA agreement, which now stand in question under the pending regime in the US. But the final price and implementation schedule were only released the day after Christmas to take effect January 1 and February 2. The sudden and dramatic changes surprised most Mexicans and the manner in which it was executed looks like an accounting maneuver to make the end of 2016 more appealing.
The economic hit from the price increase and protests resulted in another big step downward for the peso against the US dollar.
The price of petroleum products are directly tied to the dollar, and with this news, the peso fell another 5% this week alone and is likely to result in a corresponding adjustment to fuel prices again in February. By mid-February fuel prices will free-market float with the price of oil, the dollar and now by location in Mexico. As the peso continues to lose value against the dollar fuel prices will have to rise again and this could be the beginning of a devastating cycle for the Mexican economy.
Friday, Jan 6, 2017, There continue to be public protests and civil disobedience across Mexico regarding the up to 22% increase in the price of fuels. The vast majority of these protests are non-violent, as are all of the protests here in Baja so far.
Most protests come in the form for roadblocks by truckers not allowing Pemex trucks and in some cases all trucks to pass. This is causing traffic delays. In some cases across the country, Pemex stations have been blockaded. The Pemex managers of both Baja state's facilities have assured residents there will be no fuel shortage and no need for panic buying.
On the Mexican mainland, there have been incidents of looting and vandalism that began against Pemex stations and then became an advantageous moment to begin general looting of chain stores, particularly electronics. Police on the mainland began cracking down hard on this late Thursday with more than 250 arrests in the state of Mexico. As far as we could discern, none of these types of events have occurred in Baja.
For North American travelers on Baja's Highways in this travel season, it is likely in the length of the peninsula you will encounter traffic delays for these protests. Despite claims by Pemex, stations in remote locations may become 'fuel challenged', so don't run that tank too low on your trip.
The most likely points of delay will be near the Rosarito Pemex port facility in Baja California and Should you encounter and just north of La Paz at the port facility there. Should you encounter a traffic blockade exercise patience. Road blockages have become a common tool of protest in Mexico and police exercise restraint in removing these protests far longer than North Americans would consider appropriate. It is just part of their wider freedom of expression in Mexico. Take a deep breath, forget your schedule and enjoy it. I've met some of the most interesting people under an umbrella on the side of a highway in Mexico while waiting out some of these protests. Don't freak out, it is unlikely you will become part of any violence.
Blockades have been set up in La Paz at the only two access points to Puerto Pichilingue, the port of La Paz. The southern Pemex port facility is located on Punta Prieta, just to the west of Marina CostaBaja. The blockade is not permitting truck traffic to pass. Delays in both directions continue for auto traffic to the port facility, CostaBaja and the beaches of Tecolote and Balandra.
The Mayor of Cabo San Lucas also assured residents this morning that there would be no food or fuel shortages in Cabo as a result of the blockade.