BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Drivers from Buenos Aires’ powerful taxi unions will take to the streets on Thursday to begin two days of protests against ride-hailing apps including Uber, which they claim operate illegally in the city.
FILE PHOTO: Uber’s logo is displayed on a mobile phone, September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay/File Photo
The march on Thursday is expected to attract thousands of people. It will culminate at Plaza de Mayo, a historic focal point for protests of all kinds in Buenos Aires.
Argentina’s capital city lacks a specific regulatory framework for Uber, but the company maintains it obeys the country’s laws and pays taxes, and wants cities to pass ride-hailing regulations.
Lawmakers in Buenos Aires have largely sided with domestic taxi drivers, who say Uber fosters unfair competition as its prices are lower than those of city cabs.
To counter this, the city government has levied fines on Uber drivers and introduced obstacles, including an injunction by a judge that instructed some credit cards issued in Argentina not to process Uber transactions in Buenos Aires.
Still, Argentina has been the fastest-growing market in the world for Uber since it started operating there in 2016, despite the country’s economic turmoil, according to company data reviewed by Reuters.
That success has angered the city’s taxi unions, who claim that demand for local taxis has been cut in half since Uber’s arrival.
“Uber operates in an arrogant and illegal manner. In these three years, we have seen our work and our business shrink,” Cametax, an organization representing taxi companies, said on its Facebook page.
Indeed, Uber drivers have been the target of violent attacks by so-called “caza Ubers” or “Uber hunters.” It is common in Buenos Aires for Uber drivers to ask passengers to sit in the front seat to avoid drawing attention from local taxi drivers.
On Wednesday, an Uber passenger was killed in a traffic accident in greater Buenos Aires. The company said in a statement it had activated its accident insurance protocols, which are available to all rides requested through its app.
Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Bernadette Baum