Steep Government Gas Price Hike Fuels Looting, Protests in Mexico; Hundreds Arrested

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A hefty government gas price hike is fueling protests, looting and road blockades in Mexico.

A man cleans up a store that was looted during a protest over the 20 percent gasoline price hike in Ecatepec, state of Mexico, on January 5, 2017. (Credit: ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

A man cleans up a store that was looted during a protest over the 20 percent gasoline price hike in Ecatepec, state of Mexico, on January 5, 2017. (Credit: ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Authorities arrested more than 250 people for robbery and acts of vandalism around the country this week, officials said.

Some protests have been peaceful.

But in other parts of the country, people ransacked stores.

Elsewhere, they clamored to get gas.

Officials announced in December that they were planning to increase gas prices, in some cases more than 20%. President Enrique Peña Nieto says the increase is a “responsible measure for the stability of the economy.”

Some protesters say their frustration with the government is about much more than sticker shock. Peña Nieto has faced criticism for his handling of the country’s drug war, alleged corruption in his administration and his decision to meet with Donald Trump during the US presidential campaign.

This is a time of year when Mexicans normally gear up to celebrate Three Kings Day, when children traditionally receive holiday gifts. But the sudden gas price hike is dampening the mood in a country where the economy is already struggling.

The Mexican peso — riding a tough year in 2016 — plummeted after Trump’s election.

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