Massive protests erupt in Mexico over Uber, company responds by offering free rides

MEXICO CITY –  Taxi drivers in Mexico City often complain of "pirate" cabs, which prowl the capital's streets without the proper permits and allegedly plow illegal profits into political campaigns. On Monday, they parked their taxis and protested another kind of alleged "pirate" cutting into their business: Uber and other application-based ride services, which are expanding in Mexico's major cities and upending an industry not known for service, comfort or safety.

"(The local government) hasn't wanted to understand that opening the door to Uber and Cabify continues opening the door to illegality," said taxi driver José Luis Ramírez at a recent protest outside the Mobility Secretariat in Mexico City.

"Impunity, corruption and crime and corruption travel through the entire city in Uber, Cabify and pirate taxis with total freedom and protection of the (Mexico City) government," said alleged another cabbie, Francisco Cornejo.

Taxi drivers have declared war on services such as Uber and Cabify and demanded officials go after its operators, who, they argue, aren't playing by the same rules and avoid the obligations and fees of the licensing process. Those obligations include paying 80,000 pesos (U.S. $5,250) for permits, purchasing special insurance and painting their cars in a pink-and-white color scheme.

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