The biggest story in Mexico right now has nothing to do with US President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.
But it’s something that could have a major impact on the United States.
Gas stations in at least six Mexican states and the country’s capital have been running dry for days. It’s provoked a major public outcry. And there’s some concern exports could be affected.
The Reuters news agency reported this week that the gas shortage could get in the way of Super Bowl party plans if tens of thousands of tons of avocados expected to arrive in the coming weeks can’t make it north of the border.
“Cue the guacpocalypse,” Eater quipped.
During Super Bowl week alone, 100,000 tons of Mexican avocados are consumed throughout the United States, a spokesman for the Mexican Association of Avocado Producers and Exporters told CNN in 2017.
The spokesman told Reuters that it’s too soon to say whether avocado exports will suffer with gasoline harder to come by. The fuel shortage has started to hamper transportation of workers and harvested avocados within Mexico, he said.
But no matter what happens in the coming days, it’s shaping into a political crisis for Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The President, who took office in December, has called for calm and maintains there isn’t a shortage of gasoline — just a change in distribution.
“I ask people to help us how they can, acting with prudence, with serenity, without falling into panic, without paying attention to alarmist information,” López Obrador said.
López Obrador’s administration has closed several key fuel pipelines in an effort to crack down on fuel theft, which he said cost the country an estimated $3 billion last year.
“It would be easy to open the pipelines and to say, ‘The situation is back to normal,'” López Obrador said. “But that would be accepting, tolerating the robbery. We are not going to do this. We are going to resist all the pressures there are.”
State oil company Pemex says the new system will have long-term benefits that outweigh any short-term cost.
“The theft of gasoline has to end. It’s a direct robbery of national sovereignty. There is enough gas. Nonetheless, to end the crime, we have to take drastic measures that require the support of all Mexicans. … It’s a momentary bother for a permanent benefit,” the company said in a video posted on Twitter Wednesday.
The shortage has sparked long lines at gas stations, as cars wait for hours.
Some Mexicans have been taking it in stride. A video went viral of a band that headed to a gas station in the Mexican state of Michoacan and started performing for the long lines of people waiting to fill up.
Gasoline is a major issue in oil-rich Mexico, where oil is viewed as a prized national possession.
Protests erupted in 2017 when gas prices spiked.
Fuel theft has also made national headlines, with explosions reported over the years that authorities have blamed on the practice. One explosion in 2010 left 28 people dead. Analysts have said the robberies were often part of a profitable criminal enterprise exploited by some of Mexico’s most notorious cartels.