The price of hydrocarbons continues to rise, and it affects the wallets of Mexicans.
Believing that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has control over the cost, some Mexicans blame him.
“[López Obrador] promised us that, upon coming to power, he would lower the price of gasoline. Incredulously, millions of people like me believed him, because we thought he was different from other politicians and former presidents. But that was not the case,” said Aurelio Reyes Padilla, a tenant of the Malibrán market in Veracruz.
Currently, magna gasoline (regular) costs 20.44 pesos per liter [$3.70 per gallon], while premium (high octane) is 21.94 pesos per liter [$4.10 per gallon]. Diesel’s price is 21.09 pesos per liter [$3.90 per gallon].
Prices have slight variations from place to place, and they may also change from one state to the next.
“The price will continue to rise if the government does not remove the gasoline taxes,” he said. When buying gasoline, Mexicans pay two taxes, which represent 42 percent of its final price.
“It is impossible that in other countries that do not have oil, gasoline is much cheaper. Mexico pays more,” he said.
Before the COVID-19 lockdown, the price of Magna gasoline was 19.52 pesos per liter [$3.3 per gallon], while in mid-2020, when the oil price fell worldwide, it reached as low as 15.06 pesos per liter [$2.5 per gallon]. However, people knew this was momentary — gasoline would gradually recover its price.
Since gasoline is a necessary product to transport all goods, the cost of basic goods, including food, rises when fuel prices increase.
Mexico’s Federal Consumer Protection Office sets the basic basket of goods’ prices using a national average.
According to April’s report, a Mexican would pay 17.02 pesos per kilo of tortillas [$0.8 per 2.2 pounds]; 37.09 pesos per kilo of white eggs [$1.86 per 2.2 pounds]; 8.5 pesos per kilo of corn [$0.4 per 2.2 pounds]; 15.5 pesos per kilo of cornmeal [$0.7 per 2.2 pounds].
A year before — April 2020 — Mexicans bought a kilo of tortilla for 15.09 pesos [$0.7 per 2.2 pounds], which means the price of this staple increased by 10 percent. The price of other goods has not climbed as much, but is still higher. White eggs used to cost 38.04 pesos per kilo [1.91 per 2.2 pounds], which means their price has risen by 2.7 percent.
“Salaries only increase by cents, while everything goes up by pesos,” said Azucena Ríos Blanco, a housewife living in Veracruz.
“This always punishes the worker. If the president does not do something to lower the gasoline price, food will not go down. We will end up eating only tortillas, peppers and coffee, as the families used to do, because ultimately, the salaries are not enough for more,” Ríos Blanco said.
The Mexican government used to set gasoline prices until 2017. When rumors of increases spread, hundreds of motorists used to wait in line at gas stations for hours, hoping to fill their tanks before the rise hit.
Now people shop for better deals at various gas stations, even if the difference between them is just a few cents.
(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Fern Siegel)