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Mexican leader defends fuel price hike

MEXICO CITY: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto defended on Wednesday a steep increase in gasoline prices but said he understood people’s “anger” against the measure, as protests entered a fourth day.

Pena Nieto said the 20.1 percent increase in the cost of a liter of gasoline was necessary due to a rise in global oil prices.

“I understand the irritation and anger among the population in general,” he said, arguing that not increasing the prices would have been more painful for the economy.

Mexicans have held protests and blocked highways every day since the measure was implemented on January 1.

Federal police reported around 20 new protests and roadblocks in various parts of the country on Wednesday.

Authorities detained 46 people accused of looting a supermarket during a protest outside Mexico City on Tuesday.

The government says the increase is a necessary first step before it lets the market dictate how much drivers will pay as part of a sweeping energy reform.

 

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