The taxi battles are in full swing here in Santiago, including mass protests and even violence against some Uber drivers and, in a few cases, riders. What follows is an editorial from La Tercera (from around April 16th) that does a good job of capturing some of the nuances of the situation.

AGRESIONES A CONDUCTORES DE UBER

La ciudadania ha sido fuertemente impactada por las imagenes de taxistas agrediendo a conductores de la empresa Uber. Algunos de los casos reportados dan cuenta de altos niveles de violencia y amedrentamiento, que incluso han alcanzado a los propios pasajeros de estos servicios. Se trata de hechos inaceptables, respecto de los cuales se ha extranado una actitud de mayor firmeza por parte de la autoridad, la que se ha limitado a condenar el vandalismo.

No resulto apropiado que el ministro de Transportes calificara inicialmente de "piratas" a este tipo de vehiculos, porque con ello enlodo injustamente la imagen de estas empresas y dio pie para cuestionamientos que previsiblemente podian derivar en violencia. Es saludable que con posterioridad haya templado sus juicios y se abriera a buscar una regulacion para estos nuevos servicios. Pero frente al vandalismo el gobierno no puede ser indeferente, y cabe dar senales nitidas de que la integridad de la ciudadania no esta en entredicho. En tal sentido, es indispensable preservar el principio de que la protesta legitima no puede confundirse con la violencia.

El gremio de los taxistas debe asumir que este nuevo tipo de servicios basados en aplicaciones de ultima generacion, con un modelo de flotas flexibles y de altos estandares, con tarifas competitivas, no se podra detener, porque responde genuinamente a demandas de la ciudadania que el actual sistema no logra satisfacer. Su actitud amenazante de que estas aplicaiones "deben ser dadas de baja" en tanto no se alcance una solucion que las regule, solo contribuye a su propio desprestigio. La discusion debe orientarse hacia la apertura del parque de taxis y la incorporacion de las nuevas tecnologias que faciliten el servicio de transporte. Cualquier diferencia o reproche debe ser canalizado por las vias institucionales, ya sea ante el Ministerio o ante los tribunales.

 

My translation:

Aggression Toward Uber Drivers

The citizenry has been heavily impacted by the images of taxi drivers assaulting Uber drivers. Some of the reported cases include high levels of violence and intimidation, and have even been directed toward the passengers of these services themselves. These are unacceptable acts, for which is needed an attitude of greater firmness by the authority, which has been limited to condemning the vandalism.

It was not appropriate that the Minister of Transport would initially qualify as "pirates" these type of drivers, because this unfairly muddies the image of these companies and gave rise to questions that likely could lead to violence. It is healthy that the government subsequently has tempered its judgments and is open to seek a regulation for these new services. But against vandalism government can not be indifferent, and it should give sharp signals that the integrity of citizenship is not in question. In this regard, it is essential to preserve the principle that legitimate protest can not be confused with violence.

The union of taxi drivers must assume that this new type of application-based service, with a model of flexible fleet and high standards, with competitive rates, will not be able to be stopped, because it responds genuinely to citizen demands that the current system fails to satisfy. The union's threatening attitude, that these services "must be written off" as a solution, only contributes to their own discredit. The discussion should be oriented towards the taxi park opening and integration of new technologies that facilitate the transport service. Any difference or blame should be channeled through institutional channels, either to the Ministry or to the courts.