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Taxi drivers to demonstrate against Uber in downtown San José

October 19, 2016

Commuters, beware: taxi drivers plan to stage another demonstration against ride-hailing service Uber. Their procession will begin at La Sabana Park and end at the Supreme Court.

Taxi drivers are demanding that the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, issue a ruling on a suit presented in 2015 regarding the legality of Uber‘s operations in Costa Rica.

Uber launched operations here in August 2015 but Traffic Police soon began fining drivers and confiscating their vehicles, maintaining that the service is illegal.

Libertarian lawmakers Otto Guevara and Natalia Díaz filed a complaint before the Sala IV in October 2015, arguing that the articles of the Commerce Code and the Public Transport Law that impede the legal operation of Uber are in fact unconstitutional.

The Sala IV admitted the Libertarians’ complaint and ordered the Traffic Police to suspend all sanctions against Uber drivers pending a ruling.

Gilbert Ureña, the leader of the National Forum of Taxi Drivers, said this week in a statement that the primary goal of today’s demonstration is to urge the justices to issue a ruling soon. The group also called on President Luis Guillermo Solís to ask the Sala IV move forward with the ruling.

Taxi drivers want a ruling as soon as possible because they believe that Uber operations will damage their earnings in December, their busiest season, Ureña said.

Drivers promise peaceful march

Taxi association leaders met with Public Security Ministry officials on Tuesday and promised that they “will defend their rights in peace, respect and in accordance with the law.”

Security Vice Minister Juan José Andrade said in a statement that police will not allow taxis to block public roads or obstruct citizens’ rights to free transit.

The ministry confirmed that the demonstration will start at 9 a.m. and that taxis will make a stop in front of the Finance Ministry in downtown San José, across from the National Theater. There, they will ask ministry officials to open an investigaton of Uber’s tax obligations.

Taxi drivers have staged several public demonstrations against Uber since last year. Most of them included widespread blockades of streets, major highways, ports and airports.

There were also incidents of taxistas damaging vehicles and attacking citizens who tried to avoid the blockades. Various groups of taxi drivers have clashed with National Police officers.

The latest taxi drivers’ demonstration took place on August 9. Clashes with the police resulted in 78 drivers arrested and 20 vehicles seized.

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