A raucous crowd attacked Uber drivers and their cabs with clubs and stones outside the Mexico City airport, the company said today, as licensed taxi drivers demonstrated to demand a “total halt” to app-based rideshare services in the capital.
Video of the incident showed people throwing eggs and flour inside the windows of vehicles, kicking doors and trying to rip off side mirrors. One man destroyed a sedan’s rear window with a large rock.
“What happened is a very grave attack on everyone’s freedom and right to make a living in a dignified manner,” Uber said in a statement. “Incidents like this are completely unacceptable, and we trust that authorities will act so that justice is done.”
The assault and the taxi drivers’ demonstration outside the Colombian Embassy to proclaim solidarity with cabbies in that country and around the world are a clear signal that recently issued regulations designed to create a legal framework for Uber and the smaller Cabify have not put an end to Mexico City’s simmering taxi dispute.
Uber spokeswoman Rocio Paniagua told Televisa news that between 10 and 12 cars were damaged in the attack Tuesday. Some drivers were struck, but there were no reports of serious injuries.
She said taxi cabs were used to block off the street, but those who took part were not carrying anything to identify who they were.
At today’s protest, leaders of the Organized Taxi Drivers of Mexico City union denied any involvement in the “regrettable” incident. They promised to pursue only legal avenues, and said the attack was carried out by people fed up with Uber drivers parking in their neighborhood for airport pickups.
“They are decisions that the neighbors of the area made, but we have nothing to do with it,” union spokesman Juan Carlos Rovira said. “We say so categorically.”
Earlier this month Mexico City became the first city in Latin America to set down official regulations for smartphone-based ride services like Uber.
They call for the companies to pay 1.5 percent of fares to a fund for improving transportation; require drivers to register and submit to annual inspections; and bar them from accepting cash or establishing the equivalent of taxi stands.
Cabbies questioned whether Uber drivers may have been breaking that last rule by parking outside the airport.