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Despite Government Meddling and the Taxi Mafia, Uber Argentina Marches On

By | [email protected] | June 5, 2018 2:11pm


In a recent statement released to its users, Uber, the peer-to-peer ride sharing company declared that it will continue to expand and work in Argentina. This reaction comes on the heels the decision of the Buenos Aires City legislature to consider banning Uber, by blocking its access directly through local phone companies.

This measure was set to be implemented in December but was publicly announced by Enacom, an entity of the Ministry of Modernization, last week. Uber responded to this by stating that its activities have always fallen within the framework of Argentine law and the Civil and Commercial Code of the country. The company also brought up the fact that there have been no firm judicial rulings made against Uber in Argentina thus far. Additionally, the statement highlighted that “a lack of specific regulation is not synonymous with prohibition.”

However, the measure wasn’t supported by Argentine telecom companies. The ASIET (Telecomunicaciones de América Latina) declared that the measure, if adopted, could have “potential negative effects on the integrity and the security of the Internet,” and it could “reduce the transparency and trust” their clients have in their networks, as it would mean that the private companies would reduce or block access to some websites.

On the same topic, the International Commission of Human Rights warned Argentina that this measure wasn’t the best to take, as “Internet is a disruptive technology which encourages freedom of speech,” and that it was “fundamentally important that the judges and the judiciary operators take this into account before making any decision on the networks.”

Despite those declarations, some users complained on social networks earlier this week that Movistar and Personal, for example, had blocked access to the Uber app, as well as the access to their website.

It is not the first coup staged against Uber in Argentina since it officially launched in April 2016. Initially, Judge Claudio Alvaro tried to block the company’s website, but the only thing his measure actually succeeded in was to block the use of Argentine credit cards with the app. As a result, most locals now pay for their rides in cash when using Uber.

The declaration released by the company also details that “Uber has a local entity located in Argentina and registered with the AFIP (tax agency) and the AGIP (Administración Gubernamental de Ingresos Públicos), and pays taxes within the Argentine system using a CUIT (personalized tax ID).”

Uber also stated that, per the recent reform passed by Congress, which created a new law so that platforms like Uber would pay taxes, such as IVA (value added tax): “We pay every single tax that is applied to us.” 

Heavily used by expats or tourists, who can pay with their credit cards without problems, Uber has had issues establishing itself in the country since its launch. Although porteños can avoid payment problems thanks to services such as MercadoPago linked to pre-paid cards, it’s the taxi drivers who have caused the most difficulties.

Famously organized in “Caza Uber” (Uber Hunters), these taxis drivers have been known to violently attack Uber drivers and passengers in a bold attempt at vigilante justice, despite sometimes targeting people that don’t work with the company. According to Uber, these cases of violence have resulted in around 500 complaints from their drivers in Buenos Aires.

“We want to help Argentina,” the company affirmed while reiterating its support of their drivers, who need a D-Class professional license and a certificate confirming a clean criminal record. At the moment, the firm employs 35,000 drivers in the country, in 25 cities, and has around 2.2 million active users.