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Informal taxi drivers block streets throughout Costa Rica to demand work permits

March 6, 2015

Informal taxi drivers, or porteadores, blocked traffic on several major roads in Costa Rica Tuesday morning to protest government delays in issuing special permits that would allow them to legally operate.

In the early hours Tuesday, informal taxi drivers began forming slow-moving caravans that caused traffic congestion in several neighborhoods throughout the country, although most protests were focused in San José. Traffic jams were also reported in the provinces of Guanacaste (northwest), Puntarenas (Pacific) and Limón (Caribbean).

In the capital, some 3,000 informal taxis filled the streets around Casa Presidencial, in the southeastern district of Zapote.

Taxi drivers are angry that agreements reached last year with the government regarding the permits have yet to be implemented.

Germán Lobo, director of the Costa Rican Chamber of Informal Taxi Drivers, said in a statement that members “have been victims of a spurious, biased and malicious” process of requirements to allow them to obtain work permits.

Mario Badilla, director of the Public Transport Council, a division of the Public Works and Transport Ministry, said the agency received some 5,000 applications for permits from informal taxi drivers. He said that after reviewing each application, some were rejected, although he did not say how many or why they were rejected.

At about 1 p.m., protesters began to leave Casa Presidencial, but according to Lobo, protests “will resume in the next few days.”

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