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Taxi drivers protest in Chile against high fuel prices and transport apps

More than 200 taxis closed one of Santiago’s main roads on Tuesday (26) to protest against rising fuel prices and ask the government for greater regulation of transport apps.

Amid chants, horns and flags with the typical colors of taxis in Chile (yellow and black), the protesters advanced along the Alameda and arrived at La Moneda Palace with the intention of delivering a letter with demands to Chilean President Gabriel Boric.

“Today we have a big problem called ‘platform design’, which is in Congress and is tailor-made for these applications,” one of the leaders of the march, who identified himself as Manuel, told a local broadcaster.

The law that regulates platforms such as Uber and Cabify is pending in Congress and establishes that these companies must register with a notary’s office with all the information of their drivers and vehicles and have insurance for passengers and drivers, who must have a professional license.

The regulation also allows taxis to be incorporated into apps and creates a catalog of infractions and penalties.

For his part, Nelson Ponce, another protester, assured that the lack of regulation of transport apps is “a problem that has dragged on for ten years” and that many of his colleagues have gone into debt to buy their taxis and suffer from “unfair competition”. ”.

Taxi drivers also protested the price of fuel, which has risen for 48 consecutive weeks in Chile and is estimated to have risen by around 20% since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The government of Chile, an oil-importing country, presented a bill at the end of March to inject US$ 40 million into a fund that stabilizes fuel prices, which was unanimously approved in Congress in early May.

The Petroleum Price Stabilization Fund (FEED) seeks to stabilize domestic fuel prices by insulating them from the short-term volatility that affects international prices.

Chilean Finance Minister Mario Marcel said on Tuesday that the dollar’s fall after a historic intervention in the Central Bank’s foreign exchange market “has a downward effect” on the price of imported gasoline.

“Just as the dollar rose a lot at the time, and this put more pressure on fuel prices in the local market, now this pressure will be less”, Marcel highlighted.

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