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Now is the winter of our (gas-powered) discontent

29 December 2016

From Dutch journalist Jan-Albert Hootsen:

The issue with the gasolinazo (and I’m purely talking politics here, not economics) is not that the price hike isn’t logical or that it doesn’t make sense to stop subsidizing petrol in this country. It’s that people perceive the government as doing, yet again, the exact opposite of what was promised, and now it has a direct and severe effect on everyone’s personal finances.

Mexicans were promised a new PRI, they got a president mired in scandal, fugitive governors wanted for corruption, transparency and anti-corruption legislation that stalls in Congress and is then neutered into a caricature.

Mexicans were promised lower electricity prices, they got higher electricity prices.

Mexicans were told austerity was needed, they got a congress that showers itself with bonuses.

Mexicans were promised more security and a fairer justice state, they got homicide rates back at the level of 2012, the Ayotzinapa massacre and its botched investigation, etc.

They were promised an energy reform that would put an end to petrol scarcity and price hikes, they got the biggest gasolinazo in 25 years and scarcity in 15 states.

Even if economists argue that the energy reform will be beneficial in the long run, politically it doesn’t matter. The PERCEPTION among Mexicans is that they’ve been lied to and cheated worse than they have been for a very long time, and in electoral politics that’s the only thing that counts.

And remember: Estado de México is at stake this year. The PRI simply cannot lose that state, but they should start getting worried.

If you say one thing and are then time and time again perceived to do the exact opposite, what starts off as irritation among the public at some point will simply boil over.

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