A hike in the price of gasoline scheduled for the beginning of the month will be postponed for at least two weeks, the government announced Friday.
The administration of Enrique Pena Nieto raised gasoline and diesel prices by 20 percent Jan. 1, prompting protests, riots and looting across the country that continue in some areas.
The Ministry of Finance said the decision to keep gasoline prices unchanged until Feb. 18 followed a decline in global oil prices and an appreciation of the Mexican peso against dollar.
But the move has economic and political consequences, according to analysts.
“It is a prudent decision that tends to ease the social pressure that exists at this time. And, more than the economic impact, there are psychological impact of discomfort. I think this movement is intelligent,” said Enrique Solana, who heads the Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism,
A second hike of gasoline prices could have resulted in more protests at a time when Pena Nieto must negotiate sticky issues with U.S. President Donald Trump, who is widely unpopular in Mexico.
The average national price of a liter of gasoline is $0.79. The minimum wage in Mexico is $4 per day.
Protests in January over the price hike – known in Spanish as the gasolinazo – turned violent in some states, resulting in the deaths of five victims and the looting of 400 stores.
Pena Nieto justified the price increase as a consequence of rising international crude oil prices while acknowledging the move was a “difficult change, but necessary” to ensure economic stability.
By Nancy Caouette in Mexico City