Costa Rica’s informal taxis strike again

July 2, 2010

 

Last week, President Laura Chinchilla’s government came to terms with one group of informal taxi drivers, or porteadores, presenting legislation that would resolve their differences in the Legislative Assembly. But less than a week later, another group of taxi drivers is planning a protest.
 
The National Transporters’ Federation (FENAPO) will protest Tuesday morning in the streets of San José, ending at the Legislative Assembly. The organization, which represents at least 6,000 drivers, says it will hold a peaceful demonstration. However, protests by the informal taxi sector have typically involved drivers stopping or slowing down their cars in traffic, causing traffic jams and delays for commuters.
 
Public Works and Transport Minister Francisco Jiménez said the government respects the right of the drivers to protest, but added that Transit Police will interfere if the demonstration creates traffic jams. Jiménez added that the protest will not result in any changes to the bill that entered the Legislative Assembly last week, stating that an unsatisfied FENAPO withdrew from the negotiations before they were completed.
 
In an open letter published June 29 in the daily La Nación, FENAPO head Yuribeth Méndez said the government made little effort to keep FENAPO involved in the talks.
 
Last Wednesday, June 30, Chinchilla’s government and the porteadores appeared to have ended an eight-year standoff. The new agreement required the porteadores to register with the government – which involves obtaining a commercial patent, paying taxes, enrolling in the public health systems, maintaining records of contracts and keeping up-to-date insurance – and stated the drivers can only do door-to-door pick up.
 
The Chinchilla administration predicted that only 5,000 of the estimated 14,000 unregistered drivers will be able to work legally if the proposed legislation passes (TT, July 2).
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