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  HOME | Chile

Brazilian Tourist Dies in Taxi Drivers’ Blockade of Chilean Airport

SANTIAGO – A Brazilian tourist died on Monday after suffering a cardiorespiratory arrest outside Santiago International Airport and was unable to get medical attention in time – because the roads in and out were blocked by taxi drivers protesting against Uber, Cabify, and their apps for picking up passengers.

Police officials said the victim was identified as Mario Irochi Suzuki, 65, who suffered the collapse amid the chaos caused by taxi drivers demanding the elimination of their rivals’ transport apps, considering them illegal.

Several hundred taxi drivers blocked arrival and departure access at the airport, forcing passengers to walk as far as 3 kilometers (almost 2 miles) to get into the terminal or find some means of transportation to get away.

The Brazilian tourist had just arrived in Chile and after his heart attack, long minutes passed until a police helicopter could take him to a hospital emergency ward, where he soon died, authorities said.

The taxi drivers, who have mobilized several times against what they consider the unfair competition of Uber and Cabify, blocked the expressways and many left their vehicles there.

According to leaders of the sector, the protest will be maintained until authorities offer a concrete proposal for taking app-facilitated passenger transport off the roads.

The protest, which was not authorized by the authorities, continued for about five hours until police started removing the taxis with tow trucks.

The airlines rescheduled their flights to allow time for passengers to reach the air terminal, while Uber and Cabify users shouted against the taxi drivers’ “arrogance” and “bullying.”

The government, through the deputy secretary of the interior, announced that a lawsuit was filed against those who shut down the expressways for breaking the State Security Law.

The taxi blockade recalled an incident back in 2002 when the bus drivers association blocked the main streets of Santiago after a new system of collective transportation had been announced.

Uber Chile’s Corporate Communications Manager Felipe Contreras regretted what had happened, saying “we do not believe such demonstrations are the way to request changes. On the contrary, we believe even more in our vision that Chile needs more and better alternatives for getting around.

 

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