It’s a journey that Marichuy Lizarraga, does every Wednesday after work. Traveling from Tijuana, Mexico, she endures hours of traffic crossing the border just to fill up her tank with cheaper gas in the Chula Vista, California. CGTN’s Martin Markovits reports on the increase in gas prices in Mexico.
Price hike has Mexicans crossing into US in search of cheaper gasIt’s a journey that Marichuy Lizarraga, does every Wednesday after work. Traveling from Tijuana, Mexico, she endures hours of traffic crossing the border just to fill up her tank with cheaper gas in the Chula Vista, California. CGTN's Martin Markovits reports on the increase in gas prices in Mexico.
She has been doing this since January, when the Mexican government raised price of gasoline by as much as 20 percent.And while the trip to the U.S can be a hassle, she says it is worth it.
“It is really unfair what is happening,” Lizaraga said. “ My friends and I believe that buying gas in the U.S. would be like teaching the Mexican government a lesson, that the they shouldn’t raise the price.”
The gas hike announced in December sparked violent protests in almost 25 states leaving six people dead and over 1500 people arrested. Demonstrators blocked gas stations and fuel facilities, resulting in gas shortages nationwide.
This has led more Mexicans to cross the border in search of gas.
In Mexico, right now a full tank of gas on average costs $39.36 versus $31.56 in Chula Vista, California. That’s nearly eight dollars less across the border and more than double the Mexican minimum wage which according to the National Commission of Minimum Salaries averages to almost $3.95 a day.
President Pena Nieto said the gas hike was important to end government subsidies and replace them with market prices.
But Ruben Roa, an economist, says the president’s move might have been too soon.
“It’s had a very strong impact on the pocketbooks of families,” Roa said. “In the border area, we are already have much higher inflation than the national average. So when they raised the gas, the impact was immediate. We had never seen these sort of violent protests before. It would have been better if the government had increased the prices incrementally.”
The Mexican government has decided to delay a second price hike on February 18 citing international oil price volatility as a main reason. But Mexican officials could also be fearful that another hike at the pump could lead to more social unrest.