With only six days into the new year, Mexico already has little to be happy about.
A jump in gas prices this week caused widespread protests that spiraled into burglary. The country received a threatening warning that Donald Trump’s protectionist rhetoric may cause adverse effects. When Ford Motor canceled their $1.6 billion investment, the peso fell to its lowest level ever.
The recent chaos will make this year even harder for President Enrique Peña Nieto. Whose approval ratings are plunging below 25 percent.
Wednesday he returned from a golf retreat demanding unity as images of people carting away TV’s from Walmart. And stealing snack foods from delivery trucks spread across social media.
As demonstrators blocked highways and gas stations, protests continued through Thursday. The burglaries continued, and marches are planned for this weekend to demand a change in the price increases.
The president’s explanation is that the gas price increase of nearly 20 percent is necessary to keep the economy stable. That explanation did nothing to calm the outrage.
Uncertainty is jarring Mexico while the government waits to see if Mr. Trump will follow through on his campaign promises.
The country is in fear of him tearing up the North American Free Trade Agreement, deporting Mexican migrants, and building a border wall.
On Tuesday, Ford announced that they are canceling their planned investment to build a small-car plant in the state of San Luis Potosí. However, declining sales of small cars may be related more to Ford’s decision than Trump’s criticism. On Twitter, Trump promised that the Ford incident is just “the beginning.”
The peso sank to a record low because of the Ford announcement, prompting the central bank to interfere with markets on Thursday.
Trump also aimed his Twitter fire to Toyota, saying “No Way” to the company’s idea of building a Corolla factory in Mexico. He warned them to build a U.S plant or pay heavy border taxes.
According to Toyota, the new facility in Guanajuato, not Baja California as Trump insisted on, would move Corolla production from their Canadian factory, then switch to making midsize cars.
Congress approved the price increase for gas last year as part of a severity budget to close off Mexico from the market skepticism of Trump’s rise. The government plans to let prices float by the end of the year. This will probably lead to competition, and lower prices eventually.
Since Sunday, taxi and truck drivers have blocked highways. Burglary outbreaks escalated on Wednesday. A Mexico City officer was kills as he tried to stop thieves.