January 5, 2018 / 5:02 AM / 2 months ago

Isolated looting hits Mexico amid price rise jitters

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican authorities and media reported looting of stores in the states of Mexico and Veracruz on Thursday following a flurry of social media posts about increases in the prices of gasoline and tortillas this year.

At least 70 people were arrested in the state of Mexico on Thursday after looting in two cities, a spokesman for state police said.

At least 800 police were deployed to deter looting at stores in the state, according to a Twitter post by state police.

In the state of Veracruz, two people were arrested for using social media to incite looting in a suburb of the port capital, media reported.

Mexico’s government on Wednesday denounced forecast price rises by fuel retailers and tortilla makers, saying increases were unjustified as it sought to allay public concern about high inflation at the start of a presidential election year.

As inflation hovers near a 16-year high just below 7 percent, officials insisted the forecast price spikes, which have triggered social media outrage and threats of protests, are not warranted.

Early last year, Mexico saw violent protests and looting after the government cut subsidies to gasoline prices as it moved toward a free market from a state-controlled regime.

Mexican authorities have insisted that price increases in recent months have been modest, noting gasoline prices have only risen 1.3 percent compared to average prices at the end of November.

Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Noe Torres; Editing by Robert Birsel

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