The family members and classmates of the 43 missing student-teachers said the protest was both against the gas hike and government corruption.
Loved ones of the 43 student-teachers that disappeared in Ayotzinapa took over a gas station in central Mexico City to protest soaring gas prices despite abundant supply in an ongoing series of occupations and blockades termed the “gasolinazo.”
Mexico’s Ministry of Finance announced at the beginning of the year that gasoline prices would jump by 20.1 percent and diesel prices by 16.5 percent at the beginning of 2017 as years of state-regulated fuel prices come to an end. While the price dropped by a few cents last month — less than analysts said it should have dropped according to the policy — it remains at roughly the equivalent of 12 days of a minimum wage to fill a tank of gas.
Parents, family members and classmates crowded the station until Saturday afternoon without disturbance or police interventions. The students graffitied the station, broke gas pumps and tried to give away free gas, but the owner had cut off supply. Instead, they handed out fuel additives and other car supplements, reported La Jornada.
The 43 students — from the largely Indigenous teachers’ college renowned for its activism — were on their way to a protest in Mexico City when they were pulled over by local police on Sept. 26, 2014. They have been missing ever since.
In the two years since the disappearance the parents, as well as several independent investigations, have uncovered evidence which not only challenges the official government claim that the students were murdered by a local drug gang, but also points to high levels of state involvement in the disappearances.
The parents, then, were protesting both the price raise despite widespread poverty and the government’s botching of the investigation into the murder.
Just last week the Mexican-based representative to the U.N. High Commission on Human Rights slammed the attorney general’s inquiry into problems with the investigation, calling it a whitewash and pointing to “serious violations” by various officials.
The price hikes have caused widespread public backlash, with multiple protests against President Enrique Peña Nieto. The crisis has deepened due to gasoline hoarding, which has caused supply shortages in many states.
Still, Peña Nieto has promised that fuel prices would eventually decrease due to his 2014 neoliberal energy reform that ended nearly seven decades of sovereign rule over energy resources by state-run oil company Pemex.