In an ongoing dispute between government officials, formal taxi drivers and private chauffeurs – which has left motorists in Costa Rica repeatedly stuck in traffic – private chauffeurs, or “porteadores,” reached an agreement with government officials Thursday night, suspending street protests planned for next week.
Porteadores began blocking roads at 6 a.m. on Thursday, including several important routes in the capital and in the provinces of Cartago, Alajuela, Heredia and Limón. They demanded that President Laura Chinchilla issue hundreds of new permits to allow them to operate legally. They also called on police to regulate illegally operated cabs, known as “piratas.”
Government officials agreed to extend a 45-day deadline for issuing additional permits to minibus operators, and promised to deliver an ID to each company that was granted a transport concession.
Both parties agreed to meet again in two weeks in talks that will include taxi drivers’ union representatives, who also protested and blocked streets on Tuesday to demand the government enforce regulations on porteadores and piratas.
Formal taxi drivers – usually noted for their red and orange cabs – threatened to block streets during the upcoming visit of U.S. President Barack Obama on May 3, a statement that President Laura Chinchilla on Thursday called “an unfair measure that will affect the country’s image.”
Leaders of the of Taxi Drivers’ Union said they will block all streets surrounding the Juan Santamaría International airport, outside San José, the day Obama arrives in Costa Rica.