MEXICO CITY – Thousands of taxi drivers blocked key intersections in Mexico City on Monday to protest “unfair competition” from ride-hailing services such as Uber and to press Mexican authorities to regulate those firms.
Participating drivers occupied Mexico City’s giant main square, the Zocalo, as well as roads leading to the international airport.
At some spots, the protests forced partial suspension of bus service, authorities said.
Traffic congestion eased as the day wore on, especially after the group representing drivers – the National Taxi Movement – said talks were planned with the federal government.
“It is very important for us to be able to establish a relationship of dialogue, respectful and institutional, with the Government Secretariat,” movement spokesman Ignacio Rodriguez Mejia told EFE.
Movement leaders announced the dialogue at a rally in the Zocalo with as many as 10,000 drivers.
The square began the day packed with taxis and buses.
The National Taxi Movement suspended the protest pending the outcome of discussions with the government.
Asked about the possibility of future blockades, Rodriguez Mejia said that drivers would resume disrupting traffic only if their demands are not addressed.
“The evaluation of this dialogue will be made in due time and, if it’s necessary, we will continue with the mobilizations in case the attitude of our government is indifferent to the arguments we are making,” he said.
The drivers’ key demand is that the “government acts in accordance with the law and does not permit transnational firms come to transgress against the legality of our country in the matter of transportation.”
In concrete terms, taxi drivers want officials to bar Uber, Lyft, Cabify and others from the Aztec nation unless those companies register with Mexican tax authorities and obtain the same permits and operating concessions that are required of cabbies.
Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, expressed some with the taxi drivers.
“They will get a response to their demands,” he said Monday during his daily morning press conference. “Let it be understood that the government represents everyone – those who provide services and those who solicit those services.”