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“Uber in Chile Isn’t Easy:” Drivers Enlist Their Passengers As Accomplices

“Uber in Chile Isn’t Easy:” Drivers Enlist Their Passengers As Accomplices
Jennifer Billock

Even though it’s been in full swing since 2014, Uber isn’t legal in Chile. As a result, there’s a whole culture of subversive tactics on both the parts of the drivers and the local police—which usually sticks the customers right in the middle of the fray, who are either forced to lie or lose their ride.

“Working in the airport isn’t easy,” an Uber driver told a Reuters reporter. “Uber in Chile isn’t easy.”

If you get into an Uber in Chile, it’s likely you’re instantly going to become someone’s relative, or their friend’s relative, or a teammate on their sports team. You’ll probably be enlisted as an accomplice and have a story prepared so that you can tell police if they pull you over.

The ride-sharing application is in the middle of an ongoing struggle for legality in Chile, hence the lies. The police don’t believe Uber is legal in the country, so they pull over the drivers and impound their cars. The drivers, though, won’t let it stop them; they’ve developed systems to let other drivers know where the cops are so no one gets picked up by a hidden or undercover officer.

“This (Uber) application is not legal,” Chile’s Transport Minister Gloria Hutt said last year, reported by WHTC. “It does not at present comply with Chilean legislation to carry paying passengers.”

So why does Uber continue to operate in Chile? Because Uber says yes, it actually is legal. Chile’s Uber spokesperson, Veronica Jadue, has proof, too, referencing 2016 legislation to regulate the service but not end it, and a 2017 court ruling against taxi companies and unions trying to stop the service. So the company continues running there, even advertising on massive billboards, until the issue can be resolved.

[Image Source: Flickr/Mark Warner]

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1 Comment

  1. strickerj

    March 20, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Heh, just imagine the driver trying to explain to the cop that the fare is his brother – oh sure, he isn’t the same race and doesn’t speak Spanish, but…

    Oh, and if Uber is sure what they’re doing is legal, then surely they’re paying for the legal defense of their drivers in Chile that are arrested, eh? Or is it just, keep doing what you’re doing, but don’t get caught? (And if you do, tough luck, but you’re expendable.) What a sleazy company; I don’t understand why so many here swear by them.

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