MEXICO CITY — Wal-Mart and leading department-store network Coppel were forced to shut stores around Mexico as 300 retailers were vandalized amid heavy demonstrations against a 20-percent hike in fuel prices and a worsening economic outlook.
Walmex, as Wal-Mart Stores’ local unit is known, shuttered its Superama stores and supermarkets Bodega Aurrera and one Sam’s Club in Polanco, communications director Antonio Ocaranza was quoted as telling local press, which reported four Bodega Aurreras were shut. Walmex could not immediately be reached for further comment.
Several Coppel stores, which cater to lower-class consumers, were at presstime also being vandalized, mainly in Mexico State, said spokeswoman Andrea Parra. Financial losses were still being tabulated, she added.
Television images showed two stores at the 1,000-strong retailer in the gritty Ecatepec de Morelos industrial town outside Mexico’s capital being stripped by angry looters.
Hypermarket chains Soriana, Comercial Mexicana and Chedraui were also ransacked, according to officials.
In a statement, retailer lobby Antad said 300 stores were robbed while 170 were forced to shutter, adding that heavy road blockages were causing merchandise delivery delays and unspecified retailer losses.
Antad government affairs director Manuel Cardona said many shops were completely stripped in Mexico State, Michoacan, Veracruz and Hidalgo states and called for federal authorities and the army to act as “this is out of control,” he reportedly told Formula Radio.
Police said 500 people were arrested and one officer died during the incidents against the fuel hikes, and rising anger against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s promise that a 2013 energy reform would keep prices low. Mexicans are also fretting about Donald Trump’s anti-Mexico threats and how they could impact the economy, which some economists said could enter a mild recession this year.
Protests and lootings were expected to continue Thursday. Police said it would deploy 9,000 officers to control the situation.