Santiago – Thousands of taxi drivers held protests in this capital and other Chilean cities on Friday to demand that authorities force ride-sharing apps Uber and Cabify to operate under the same regulations as cabs.
"We need legislation that regulates the activity of these applications," Osvaldo Gonzalez, leader of the Confenataxi drivers association, told Radio Cooperativa.
"Let's not allow a transnational come to impose norms on Chile," he said from amid a caravan of hundreds of cabs making its way through Santiago.
A bill currently before Congress would require ride apps created by Chilean taxi operators and car services to submit to regulation, while essentially exempting foreign entrants such as Uber and Cabify.
That proposal is discriminatory, according to Gonzalez, who said his members were prepared to occupy the entire length of the 120-kilometer (72-mile) highway that links Santiago to the coastal city of Valparaiso - where Congress meets - to express their dissatisfaction.
Chilean cabbies have seen their incomes decline between 30 percent and 35 percent since the arrival of Uber and Cabify, taxi federation official Luis Campos said.
"The feeling is horrible. Authorities have abandoned the association," he said.