A verbal conflict between taxi drivers erupted at the Cancun airport. According to witnesses things did not escalate beyond these verbal arguments. The issue seems to be that fake taxis are arriving at the Cancun Airport terminal and poaching tourists from regulated taxi drivers. This has sparked the rage of the authorized taxi drivers who by most accounts were the ones who started the argument.
Since things did not escalate further than these verbal aggressions no police or national guard authorities arrived on the scene. This has many people worried though that arguments could take a darker tone in the days to come. Particularly as the next weekend approaches, and more tourists arrive at the Cancun airport. Other than having to weave their way through angry taxi drivers, what’s at stake for tourists here?
Who Are The Fake Taxi Drivers?
According to the taxi drivers union who have a base at the airport terminal most of the taxi drivers that are poaching clients from them are Colombian immigrants. These immigrants run their own taxi companies that are sometimes unregulated. That’s why they are being labeled fake taxi drivers. Even if these Colombian immigrants do drive regulated cabs, they are not authorized to provide their services in the airport terminal area.
The taxi drivers that have a base at the airport terminal pay local authorities for that privilege. In essence there are two things that local union drivers are mad about. Naturally the fact that other drivers are poaching their clients. At the same time they are finding ways to get clients without paying the authorities for the right to work in the airport area.
This is very similar to the ongoing debate with Uber drivers in the region. Local taxi unions have to pay for cab licenses to the local government in order to operate in the region. While Uber drivers, or even some of these fake cabs are able to operate without paying for cab licenses.
Are Tourists At Risk With These Fake Cab Drivers?
As a tourist would you be running a big risk if you hitch a ride with one of these fake cab drivers? The reality of the situation is that many of these “fake cab drivers” may also be uber drivers that are waiting for their passengers that booked a ride through the app. Not that all of the taxi drivers that are at the terminal trying to pick up clients run fake cabs per se. It’s just that they don’t have legal permission to pick up passengers at the terminal.
Mexican authorities at multiple airports across the country warn against hitching a ride from cab drivers that are not “airport official cabs”. The main reason behind this is that you may in fact be hitching a ride with someone who is operating without a license. They can essentially charge fees that go beyond what is legally permitted. Since tourists tend to not be aware of what the local rates are, these cab drivers tend to take advantage of that.
In the worst case scenario getting into a fake cab can certainly increase your risk of falling victim to all sorts of petty crime, and even kidnapping. Many of these fake cabs, though, have success picking up tourists because they actually offer lower rates for rides. The fact that they don’t pay local authorities for parking privileges or even licenses allows them to offer better rates. As you can probably guess by now, as a tourist, using these types of cabs can be a big gamble.
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