Costa Rican government ends standoff with informal taxi drivers

June 25, 2010

 

The administration of Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla says an agreement reached on Wednesday will eventually eliminate Costa Rica’s informal taxi service. 
 
The agreement ends an eight-year standoff between the government and the country’s porteadores, or informal taxi drivers, by making each person who intends to transport people register with the Transport Ministry.
 
The rift between the two parties has caused many headaches over the years, as failed negotiations often led to road blocks or tortugismo, a method of protest in which demonstrators drive slowly to stall traffic.  
 
Germán Lobo, head of the PorteadoresChamber, said such practices will end only if the agreement goes through as negotiated.The proposal has one more road block: It must be approved by the Legislative Assembly before it can take effect.
 
President Laura Chinchilla called on both Ottón Solís and Otto Guevara, her two closest rivals in the February elections – and the heads of the Citizen Action Party and the Libertarian Movement Party, respectively – to seek the support of their followers for the bill.
 
She said despite achieving an agreement with the porteadores, “It’s very probable that not everyone will vote in favor.” 
 
Members of the media were skeptical about the claim that the agreement would eliminate taxistas piratas, as the informal drivers are popularly known. They pointed to the situation in communities outside of San José where no official taxi service exists, and questioned how the government could regulate pirate taxis drivers in these areas, or any of the other for-pay transportation services that may surface.
 
The negotiating team called the process “complex” and “a marathon,” adding that each party involved had to make sacrifices. Edwin Barboza, president of the Taxi Federation, said, “I want to emphasize that in this process, there were no winners or losers.” 
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