Monday February 18, 2019
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Mexico City taxi drivers demand shut down of Uber, countering protest Uber provides free cabs

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Photo credit: https://twitter.com/Uber/media
Photo credit: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/25/mexico-city-taxi-drivers-protest-uber
Photo credit: theguardian

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Hundreds of taxi drivers in Mexico City protested against the US taxi provider, Uber and demanded that the authorities should shut down this online ride service. Countering the protest, Uber provided free rides to customers throughout the day to drive all the criticism directed its way.

The drivers said that Uber and other ride-sharing services evade the tax, registration and safety laws that regular cabs are subjected to.

The event was organized by the Organized Mexico City Taxi Drivers association (TOCDMX). The demonstrators rallied across major parts of the city including  Paseo De La Reforma Avenue and Zocalo, Mexico city’s largest square.

“We have to pay for car taxes, taxi license plates, permits, and all the rest, while Uber drivers just pay for vehicle verification and that’s it,” Juan Luis Uscandia, a Mexico City driver told a news agency.

Addressing the rally, Taxi drivers’ leader Eleazar Romero said that, “we are not against technology. We just want a level playing field, we want everyone to follow the same tax rules we do.”

Responding to the protest, the company said on the website, “As today is a difficult day to get around, we have decided to give away Uber rides to all users, because #MexicoDoesntStop #UberDoesntStop.”

The San Francisco based company, Uber allows individuals who submit applications to offer transport services without their cars having any kind of special license.

In December 2014, the taxi drivers had filed a complaint against Uber for violating the mobility law of Mexico. According to IANS, the law’s Article 258 states that companies commit the crime of “illegal passenger or cargo transport” when they use vehicles lacking “a concession or permit issued by the (mobility) secretariat for those purposes.”

Uber has often been criticized for acting as an informal taxi service, undermining workers’ rights and forcing taxi drivers out of business.

BBC review of complaints against Uber show that customers have alleged misunderstanding regarding Uber Technologies’ pricing. They further alleged that consumers have difficulty in reaching out to a customer service representative to get their concerns addressed.

The free ride offer may appear enticing to the users at first, however, it can have grave effects in the long-run.

Exempted from paying car taxes or possessing license plates and permits, the cab service provider has full freedom to put the safety of passengers at risk.

Last year, Uber halted its operations in New Delhi after one of its drivers was arrested for allegedly raping a passenger. The incident is a proof that how dangerous a taxi ride can become if the cab services are excused from following basic public transport rules.

Next Story

Haitians On Protest Despite President’s Assurance

On the streets of Port-au-Prince, protesters are burning tires and building makeshift barricades, which are blocking many roads.

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A demonstrator kicks a tear gas canister during clashes with Haitian police in Port-au-Prince, Feb. 15, 2019, on the ninth day of protests against Haitian President Jovenel Moise. VOA

Hundreds of Haitians protested in the streets of the capital, Port- au-Prince, for the ninth consecutive day Friday, despite the president’s assurances that he understands their pain and is working toward a solution.

“We are asking the international community to help us get rid of [President] Jovenel [Moise] because Jovenel is working for them,” a protester told VOA Creole. “Fellow citizens, please if you see Jovenel on the street, handcuff him and throw him in jail,” the young man added.

FILE - President Jovenel Moise, then the Haitian presidential candidate of PHTK Political Party, speaks during an interview with AFP in Port-au-Prince, Sept. 6, 2016.
President Jovenel Moise, then the Haitian presidential candidate of PHTK Political Party, speaks during an interview with AFP in Port-au-Prince, Sept. 6, 2016. VOA

Moise broke his weeklong silence with a national address Thursday night, which was broadcast nationwide and on Facebook. He sought to calm and reassure a tense and angry nation.

“I hear you,” Moise said, acknowledging criticism about his government’s ineffectiveness and lack of transparency. “I will never betray you. You are the reason I ran for president. I’m working for you.”

He also reminded the country’s most underprivileged citizens that like them, he, too, came from humble beginnings.

Moise announced that he has taken a series of measures to make life better for Haitians and has asked Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant, whom he described as an electoral rival, to communicate those measures and apply them immediately. He later tweeted that Ceant would announce the new economic measures Friday.

It is still unclear whether or when the prime minister will announce the measures, but in an interview with a local radio station Friday morning, Ceant said the president had pressured him to resign. Ceant said he refused.

A group of women and children walk to buy water in the neighborhood of Petion Ville, in the Haitian Capital Port-au-Prince, on Feb. 14, 2019.
A group of women and children walk to buy water in the neighborhood of Petion Ville, in the Haitian Capital Port-au-Prince, on Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

On the streets of Port-au-Prince, protesters are burning tires and building makeshift barricades, which are blocking many roads.

“We don’t need for the prime minister to resign,” a protester in his 20s told VOA Creole. “We need lower prices. This morning I went to buy a bag of rice — I’m a poor person — they were asking 350 dollars [Haitian Gourdes, the local currency, are equivalent to about U.S. $3.50]. So, president, I’m asking you to resign. You can go now.”

“Jovenel is adding fuel to the fire,” a protester in his 40s told VOA Creole. “It would have been better if he had never said anything.” The man decried the current living conditions where young people have died and residents are dealing with a water shortage.

“I’m out here [protesting] for the ninth time. I lost a lot of brothers and sisters during these protests,” another man said proudly. “The president humiliated [in his speech last night] by calling us drug dealers, while he sends kudos to the Americans. Mr. President, we are not drug dealers!”

The international community has acknowledged the people’s right to protest but deplored the violence and damage to property.

The U.S. Embassy issued a statement Friday reacting to the protests and the president’s speech.

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“The United States Government shares the desire of the Haitian people for a better future for Haiti,” it said. “We encourage all of Haiti’s lawfully elected representatives, and all Haitians who seek a peaceful political solution consistent with Haiti’s constitution to engage in an inclusive dialogue — without resorting to violent action.”

The statement also encouraged “sound economic policy measures” and “transparent resource management” as ways to improve living conditions. (VOA)