MEXICO CITY – Amid shortages of gasoline and long lines at the pumps, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Thursday that citizens should not panic, and he tried to reassure them that the availability of fuel would soon return to normal.
Motorists lined up for blocks to fill their tanks again as more and more gas stations closed because of shortages that began this week when authorities shut down certain pipelines in a concerted operation to eliminate rampant theft of fuel.
The effort is part of a major anti-corruption campaign by Lopez Obrador, who took office last month vowing to do away with institutional graft – including the pilfering of gasoline from state-owned pipelines and tanker trucks. Fuel theft is a multibillion-dollar criminal enterprise involving organized crime and corrupt officials.
But the gas shortages have drawn fierce criticism from motorists, business leaders and opposition politicians, who say the government acted without securing sufficient alternative distribution networks.
“In some gas stations there are going to be lines,” Lopez Obrador said at a news conference. “If there is gasoline available in automobile tanks, please don’t go to the gas station in these days because we are in the process of normalizing the supply.”
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