Mérida, Yucatán — Uber is offering economic and legal assistance to drivers who were assaulted by men representing airport taxi drivers on Wednesday. At least three Uber drivers were attacked, and some cars smashed, in confrontations just outside the international airport.
The clash was captured on video and shared all over social media.
“We regret what happened in Mérida, a city of peace,” said Uber’s communications manager, Lorena Villarreal. “It is an unfortunate aggression suffered by Meridanos who just want to have an income opportunity and work to improve their quality of life.”
But the 500 or so taxi drivers, who were defending what they say should be an exclusive airport concession, feel threatened by the ride-sharing platform.
Interviewed by telephone, Villarreal said that Uber Mexico is aware of at least three complaints filed by their drivers with the state attorney general. She also vowed that Uber will continue its expansion in Mérida.
Media reports conflicted on claims that Uber would suspend operations until Friday, allowing emotions to settle. Uber denied suspending any services.
Representing the taxi drivers, the head of their union, the FUTV, said Uber represents unfair and illegal competition. Hector Fernandez Zapata insisted that the Department of Transportation should restrain private drivers since licensed taxistas have to pay for a license to work.
The straw that broke the camel’s back on Wednesday was the 20 Uber vehicles that FUTV drivers said were lingering at the airport, awaiting fares. According to the FUTV, Uber drivers began to insult and threaten them, so they decided to block their access to the street.
Protests from taxi drivers have erupted in various cities, and Uber has recently decided not to enter another potentially lucrative market, Puerto Villarta, because of the lock taxi drivers have on business there.