Protesting taxi drivers promise that they will return next week

Taxi drivers are upset because their blockades Tuesday were met with more force than they are accustomed to seeing, but they still plan another protest next Monday.

There was some confrontations, and the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública quickly went public with the photo of a police officer who had three teeth knocked out by a baton at the Fuente de Hispanidad traffic circle. Some taxi drivers also complained of rough treatment when they were arrested.

Police and traffic officers handed out 119 traffic tickets and 74 persons were detained. The Poder Judicial said that four taxi drivers were facing what amounts to felony charges, including the men suspected of  hitting the officer in the face. Some other officers were injured elsewhere.

Traffic police also confiscated 33 taxis, and the owners will have to make significant payments to recover them. Confiscations took place when the taxi was not registered properly or had not been submitted to the twice-yearly inspection, said police.

More than 3,000 police officers were on the streets as taxi drivers in much of the country protested with blockades or slow movement.

One downtown office worker said that she left her home very early Tuesday to avoid the protest, but her trip to work still took twice as long. Her trip home took much less time than normal because most motorists had avoided the metro area if they could.

Although taxi drivers complained of the police response, tourists would have done worse. Many visitors were livid at the blockades. The  Ministerioo de Seguridad Pública said some new arrivals were stuck for as long as 10 hours at Juan Santamaría airport. Some actually left the airport on foot to walk to San José Centro. Others who were outbound and caught in the jam, ended up walking to the airport.

There is no estimate of the work hours lost because employees and delivery drivers were caught in the protest.

The drivers ended their protest about 1 p.m. as the rain started to fall.

They gained one concession. The Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos said its staff would study the law to see if it has the power to shut down the Uber ride service and its online app. The bulk of the protest was directed at the U.S.-based company that has no legal authorization to work here. Uber, meanwhile, offered cheap rides Tuesday.

Taxi drivers from the Unión de Taxistas Costarricenses will next meet with the regulating agency Tuesday, the agency said.

Meanwhile, traffic police officers have called off the protest they had scheduled for today after a meeting with Carlos Villalta, the minister of Obras Públicas y Transport. The ministry said that the officers received permission to work in pairs, something they had been seeking.

Taxi drivers are let to an awaiting police vehicle. Most face misdemeanor charges.

Taxi drivers are let to an awaiting police vehicle. Most face misdemeanor charges.

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