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Uber driver threatened in Costa Rica

February 15, 2016

The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) acknowledged threats against an Uber driver over the weekend in a statement released Sunday afternoon. The reported threats followed a week of tense exchanges between the government and taxi unions over Uber’s operations in Costa Rica.

The daily La Nación reported that a woman who identified herself as an Uber driver called 911 on Saturday evening saying that she had been threatened by a group of taxi drivers in Dulce Nombre de la Unión, Cartago, according to police chief Ronald Solís. The woman left the area before police arrived, according to La Nación. She was not identified.

On Sunday, MOPT issued a statement condemning “any act of aggression, violence or intimidation against taxi drivers, Uber drivers or any motorists that threatens someone’s physical wellbeing and life.

“In light of attacks that occurred in the last several hours, [MOPT] makes a call against such conduct, which resolves nothing and puts citizens at risk,” the statement read.

Newly appointed Transport Minister Carlos Villalta said “we will not tolerate attacks against people who work with Uber. Any act of intimation, aggression, verbal or physical violence or threats is unacceptable.”

Despite denouncing the threat, Villalta said that Transit Police would impound vehicles and fine any drivers operating for Uber if caught.

President Luis Guillermo Solís’ administration has maintained that Uber’s popular ride-hailing service is illegal under Costa Rican law. The company disagrees and has continued to expand its service since going online here in August 2015.

Uber released a brief statement Sunday condemning the violence and said the company would support its drivers and cooperate with any investigation.

Saturday’s incident took place after taxi drivers demanded the government block Uber’s app in Costa Rica and protested in front of Casa Presidencial on Feb. 1.

Last week, Taxi driver Virginia Moreira chained herself to a tree outside President Luis Guillermo Solís’ home in the Escalante neighborhood of San José in protest over the government’s inaction in regards to Uber and over current taxi regulations. On Sunday, Moreira was no longer outside the president’s home.

This is not the first time an Uber driver has been reportedly threatened or attacked by red taxi drivers. On Aug. 22, 2015, taxi drivers allegedly smashed the windows of an Uber vehicle.

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