Uber drivers face intimidation, but many carry on

A protest last February outside the state government building at the Plaza Grande shows the tensions between Uber drivers and taxistas. Photo: File
An airport confrontation between taxi and Uber drivers got ugly in May 2016. Photo: File

Mérida, Yucatán — The week started badly for the 15 Uber drivers whose cars were towed away by police on Monday.

Under the State Transport Directorate, 758 vehicles have been seized from Uber drivers. Of those, only 298 have been recovered by their owners since Uber began last year.

And the government in justified in doing so, since the legal setback the ride-sharing company was handed before the Supreme Court, said Carlos Pavón Flores, the state’s legal counsel.

Sponsored
 
A protest last February outside the state government building at the Plaza Grande shows the tensions between Uber drivers and taxistas. Photo: File

Uber drivers are turning to the PAN and Moreno political parties, which between them represent a wide range of philosophies. They say that the crackdown is intense, sweeping even drivers who aren’t connected with Uber, but drive models, especially the Versa, which is used by Uber drivers.

A driver told Punto Medio that in one day, in the Francisco de Montejo neighborhood alone, he saw at least eight patrols cars, six pickups, eight motorcycles and three tow trucks.  At each Oxxo convenience store, there were two parked patrols cars.

He said the police presence made him paranoid, so he turned off the application and left.

That said, airport workers told Diario de Yucatán that Uber vehicles arrive at the airport every day to drop off or pick up passengers, but federal police in charge or the terminal do nothing.

The taxi drivers that the government wants to protect from new competition are emboldened these days.

Sponsored
 

“Uber can not stay as a pirate service, there is a law that must be respected,” says Joel Manuel Aguilar Salazar, general secretary of the Union of Taxi Drivers of the Airport, which is affiliated to the Front of Workers Volante (FUTV).

A student’s point of view

A political science student, winner of the Third National Debate Competition on Human Rights, offered Diario de Yucatán a nuanced view.

Fernando Hernández Leal, an eighth-semester student at Universidad Modelo, agreed that Uber and other ride-sharing platforms deserve a place in society because they are job generators.

A company of international stature deserves better treatment than this, he added. Regulations are to be expected, but they should not be so rigid, he indicated.

The relationship between the FUTV and the state government, he opined, is something the Supreme Court must take into account. On the other hand, Uber has an obligation to respect the norms that existed, and also not be rigid in their negotiations, he said.

“The government has the power to regulate companies and all business activity that develops within the state, Hernández Leal said. “However, we are talking about an innovative company and, therefore, there must be more concessions in order to increase employment and innovations.”

With information from Sipse.

Comments