San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Unlicensed taxi drivers block streets of San José on Wednesday

Thousands of unlicensed taxi drivers, known as “porteadores,” idled their vehicles at Plaza González Víquez, south of San José, in a form of protest that caused traffic jams in the capital at 6 a.m. on Wednesday. Porteadores enacted similar protests throughout the country Wednesday.

National Transporters’ Federation (Fenapo) President Yuribeth Méndez said the demonstration intended to force changes to new regulations about private transportation. The new legislation could allow certain unlicensed drivers to work legally, but the protesters see the changes as unfair.

“We just want to work, there are about 16,000 porteadores and the government only wants to employ 3,000,” said Victor Salazar, a taxi driver and spokesperson for the protesters. “For many of us this is our only source of income.”

According to a press release by the Costa Rica government, members of the government began negotiations in 2010 with different groups of carriers, including Fenapo, for regulating taxi cabs. 

Francisco Marín, vice minister of the presidency, said negotiations began in 2010 with different groups of carriers. During the course of the negotiations, members of the government met with Fenapo three times. However, Fenapo did not agree with the regulations and withdrew from negotiations:

“Fenapo never wanted to sit at the table with all the other porteadores companies,” Marín said.

However, members of the Libertarian Movement, the Social Christian Unity Party and the Citizen Action Party said they are willing to review the legislation.

If the porteadores are not satisfied with the results, they already plan to have another massive protest and roadblock on March 2 in San José.

Jonathan Madrigal of the National Police said there were no problems with protesters in the capital, who marched peacefully to the Legislative Assembly.

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