San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Uber supporters say court case could legalize ride-hailing service in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s highest court agreed to hear a constitutional complaint this week that advocates of the ride-hailing service Uber believe could legalize it and similar services in Costa Rica.

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, known as the Sala IV, issued a statement Friday saying that it would review a 2015 complaint filed by Libertarian Party lawmakers Otto Guevara and Natalia Díaz, and libertarian economist Juan Ricardo Fernández. While Sala IV debates the case, punishment for providing private transportation deemed illegal under Costa Rican law has been suspended.

The complaint alleges that the National Assembly made a parliamentary error when it passed a reform creating the Special Taxi Service, or SEE Taxi, a private car service separate from licensed taxi drivers. These private chauffeurs are commonly known as porteadores.

Guevara and the other complainants claim SEE Taxi constitutes a public monopoly on private ride services (the government grants SEE Taxi permits). They also allege that the SEE Taxi reform violates the Central American Free Trade Agreement, according to the complaint.

While Sala IV justices deliberate the complaint, the Transit Police and the Public Services Regulatory Authority cannot collect fines, impound vehicles or strip cars of their plates for providing unlicensed transportation services.

The Public Works and Transit Ministry has previously said that Uber drivers could be fined more than ₡100,000 — roughly $200 — and have their vehicle impounded for providing what the government considers an illegal transportation service.

Guevara told the daily La Nación that the court could take more than a year to decided the case, theoretically giving Uber and other unlicensed transportation operators at least that long to do business without fear of seizure or fines.

Taxi union leader Rubén Vargas told Channel 7 TV News that he doubted the case would give Uber the green light to start operating in Costa Rica. If the court does rule in a way that legalizes Uber’s operations, Vargas said taxis would strike.

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Hachi Ko

–> advocates of the ride-hailing service Uber believe could legalize it

So… these “advocates” of Uber DO believe that the Uber service is not [yet] LEGAL…

Rather… they are hoping that a hearing by Sala IV could “Legalize” it…

So… it’s OK to do something that’s illegal, in the hopes that someone will later legalize it?

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Ken Morris

I hope a subsequent article explains this case more thoroughly, since I don’t understand it.

On one hand we have a “parliamentary error,” which sounds like a technicality, while on the other hand we have an argument that the government doesn’t have the authority to create private monopolies, in part because these violate the terms of free-trade treaties.

However, you bet that the government has the authority to create private monopolies. What do you think lawyers are?

So I just don’t understand the legal bases of the case.

I can guess that Guevara and his Libertarian henchmen plan to practice the same guerilla capitalism that Uber practices. Actually, SALA IV cases are often decided fairly fast. It sounds like the Guevara group plan to use delaying tactics.

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Hachi Ko

Case in Point…

I first started visiting Costa Rica over 15 years ago. About 12 years ago, after numerous visits to Costa Rica, I started to seriously consider retiring in Costa Rica.

I began to make inquiries regarding my business in Costa Rica. At almost every turn, the answer was, “You could NEVER do that in Costa Rica.” This answer came from both Gringo Expats and Ticos. At first, I took them seriously… but after about two years, I began to ask myself, “Why Not?”

It did not take me long to understand the Stagnation and Inflexibility of the business environment in Costa Rica. Back then — and even today — Costa Rica was Ripe for the “Capitalist Harvest.” I began setting up my business, which does very well, to the present day.

The point is… I understand what Uber is doing. The problem that I have with Uber is that they are doing it illegally.

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Hachi Ko

Vargas, Vargas, Vargas…

and all of the other taxi drivers and taxi driver union members out there…

You are dealing with an enterprise founded in the USA… the undisputed POWERHOUSE of capitalism and capitalist operations. Uber is running all over you, because you don’t understand the nature of capitalism, marketing, and consumerism. Costa Rica is Centuries behind the USA in the understanding and implementation of these concepts. That’s why Uber beat the taxi union in Costa Rica earlier this month, and that’s why Uber will beat the taxi union in any challenge or strike by the taxi union.

The Costa Rican Government is already eating out of the hand of this corporation, Uber, and it will continue to do so. What do you think that Sala IV is going to say when Uber presents its case for “legalization?” Uber already knows the answer. Uber is so far ahead of the Ticos that it is LAUGHABLE. Uber already has the Costa Rican Government by the BALLS… and they don’t even realize it. The Costa Rican Government (and Sala IV) will Gleefully declare that Uber is a legal service, and they won’t even realize why they did it, until it is too late.

The only hope for the Regular Taxis in Costa Rica is to fight Uber on its own turf. Rip the meters out… Paint over the triangles on the sides of your taxis… and declare, “We are Ride-Share!”

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Hachi Ko

–> Taxi union leader Rubén Vargas told Channel 7 TV News that he doubted the case would give Uber the green light to start operating in Costa Rica. If the court does rule in a way that legalizes Uber’s operations, Vargas said taxis would strike.

Vargas… You Silly Goose… Striking won’t do anything in this case. You would be striking against a competing service provider, not the government. Your strike would only have a negative effect upon your business and enhance the business of Uber.

Vargas… What you need to do is… DECLARE that all regular taxis are now ride-sharing services, and will no longer pay any fees or taxes. Rip the meters out of your taxis and Go Get Those Fares! See what happens!

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