Taxi drivers in Rio de Janeiro disrupted traffic Friday in protest against the Uber app-based private driver service, which has triggered controversy and legal disputes in several parts of the world.
The cabbies began demonstrating in the early morning hours against what they call "pirate transport" and "unfair competition."
Some 1,500 drivers used their vehicles to block several roads in Brazil's second-biggest city and left hundreds of people without taxi service.
Hundreds of cabs were parked along Aterro do Flamengo, a coastal expressway that leads to Copacabana, one of Rio's most popular tourist districts.
San Francisco-based Uber responded to the protest by offering its customers two free rides - with a value of up to 50 reais (some $15) each - until 7:00 p.m.
"We know that today will be a difficult day for public transport, and to not leave Rio residents without any option today everyone will be able to use Uber free of charge in all parts of the city," the company tweeted, using the hashtag #orionaopara (Rio doesn't stop).
The online ride service, which has drawn the ire of taxi drivers in different parts of the world, said its "users have the right to choose the way in which they move about the city."
The city council of Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest metropolis, recently passed a preliminary bill that bans Uber and other smartphone-based ride-sharing services, which have come under fire for using unlicensed drivers.
That metropolis' transportation secretary also said early this month that his office would ask Sao Paulo state's Militarized Police force to prevent Uber cars from operating and investigate the company for alleged tax evasion and illegal repatriation of profits.