By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Just days before he is due to step down after a six-year term as president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto raised the price of gasoline on Friday, Nov. 23.
Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ran the country essentially uncontested for more than seven decades until the year 2000, lost overwhelmingly in Mexico’s July 1 elections to the newly formed, populous National Regeneration Movement (Morena), led by now-President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
Some critics have said that the price hike appeared to be Peña Nieto’s last act of vengeance against the Mexican people — who began to abandon their support of both him and the PRI in early 2017 after gasoline prices began to rise dramatically following his controversial Energy Reform.
The 2017 price hike, which was referred to as a gasolinazo (gasoline wallop) by angry Mexicans, led to an unprecedented wave of protests against the current government, marking a crucial and cataclysmic political turning point for the now-mostly defunct PRI.
In El Diario Oficial de la Federación, the government’s official newspaper through which all new laws and regulations are announced, the Peña Nieto administration said that gasoline government “subsidies” would be eased out by Friday, Nov. 30.
The cost of Magna regular gasoline (over 87 octanes) will now be about 19.91 pesos a liter in Mexico City, while Premium gasoline (91 octanos and above) will be roughly 21.43 pesos a liter, according to the Mexican Energy Regulatoriy Commission.
Notwithstanding, the Treasury Secretariat stated that the price of diesel fuel — used primarily by transport vehicles — will remain unchanged.
Mexico is one of the world’s largest oil producers and the third-largest in the Americas, cranking out 2.1 million barrels per day.
Currently, oil industry sales account for about 32 percent of all Mexican government revenues.
In the past, Mexico was even more dependent on oil sales to maintain its economy, and in 1938, under then-President Lázaro Cárdenas, the country nationalized all petroleum reserves, facilities and foreign oil companies, an extremely popular move among Mexicans (although not so much among foreign oil investors) that led to oil ownership becoming a sacred cow issue nationwide.
However, during the six-year term of Peña Nieto, gasoline prices in Mexico have skyrocketed by 64 percent, while in the United States, the cost of gas has dropped by 33 percent during that same period, according to figures supplied by Bloomberg News.
During his campaign and since his landslide victory last July, incoming-Mexican President López Obrador has repeatedly promised to put a ceiling on gasoline prices from the day he takes office on Saturday, Dec. 1.