It's been almost a week since gas stations in the Mexican state of Jalisco started to run dry. Shortages have been reported in at least five other states and in the country's capital. The line stretches outside the station and onto the street.
Mexico's new president and country's state-run oil company called for calm. It is not a gas shortage – just a change in the way fuel is distributed.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's administration has closed several key pipelines in an effort to crack down on fuel theft, which he said cost the country to estimated $ 3 billion last year.
Analysts have reportedly been part of a profitable criminal enterprise exploited by some of Mexico's most notorious cartels.
López Obrador urged people to be patient this week. I ask people to help us how they can, acting with prudence, with serenity, without paying attention to alarmist information, "he told reporters Wednesday.
But as days pass, drivers' desperation grows. Family members take turns waiting in long lines for gas. Some comb social media for clues about which stations are open. Others have decided to leave their cars at home.
"People aren't running errands. They're not going out in the streets because of the problem going on with the fuel shortage, because there are few trucks, fewer taxis," cabdriver Felipe Galindo said. They buy gas in Michoacán, one of several Mexican states where shortages have been reported. ”
State oil company Pemex said the new gas distribution 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. gas, nonetheless, to the crime, we have to take measures that require the support of all the Mexicans.
So far problems with public transportation and cargo shipments have been reported as CNN and Español, the Jalisco state president of the National Confederation of Mexican Transporters.
"If we reached the point of a diesel, we would really be facing a major national emergency," Manuel Sánchez said. "We believe in and trust the authorities that this situation will be resolved so that we don" Come close to this scenario, which would be catastrophic and not only the transportation industry, but the whole national economy. "
Juan Pablo Castañón, director of Mexico's Business Coordinating Council, customs reporters companies are looking to the government for assistance.
"We are looking for the secretary of energy to give us a contingency plan for an emergency, and to foster more participation from private companies who can import and distribute gasoline in and urgently less," he said.
There's some companies that export could be affected – and the shortage could have ripple effects north of the border.
The Reuters news agency reported this week that the gas shortage could get in the way of Super Bowl celebration plans if tens of thousands of tons of avocados expected to arrive in the coming weeks can't make it to the United States.
But a spokesman for the Mexican Association of Avocado Producers and Exporters said Friday that Americans planning to put their party tables shouldn't worry.
"There will be virtually no impact from the fuel shortage in Mexico on our ability to deliver avocados to the US market, as the majority of our suppliers use diesel in their trucks, "spokesman Ramon Paz said in a statement released to CNN. "We are on track to deliver some 200 million pounds of product throughout January – right on schedule."
Gasoline is a major issue in Mexico, where oil is viewed as a prized national possession.
Protests erupted in 2017 when gas prices are spiked
Fuel 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.
Journalist Belén Zapata reported from Guadalajara, and CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet wrote the story in Washington. CNN and Español's Rey Rodriguez contributed to this report.