The legalization of transport services such as Uber and other apps could be left up to the people if the initiative by the Asociación Víctimas del Estado (AVES) materializes.
The group presented this Friday before the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) a request to put the question of legalizing Uber, Cabify, Onbis and others to a referendum.
“It must be the people and not the government who chooses if they want the services such as Uber,” said Carlos Porras, president of AVES.
The proposal comes after the Governing Council agreed last Tuesday “urging” Uber to stop operating in Costa Rica, under the pressure of the formal (red) taxi drivers who threatened blockades.
On Friday, the government, in a statement, clarified that “the current regulation prevents a private person from providing the paid transport service of persons, if they do not have a concession or permission from the State”.
Uber began operations in Costa Rica three years ago and according to the company has 22,000 associates (drivers) and almost 800,000 users.
“The aim of our Association is to defend people from state abuses. The project proposes that the public transport service can be provided through a technological platform and that it authorizes us to collect signatures so that it is then the people who decide if they want UBER services. We believe it is essential that if this is a transport service, the people are the ones who decide or not if they want it and not the government,” said Porras.
AVES is an association that was formally incorporated at the beginning of this year and has about 25 members.
The referendum process
The citizen initiative (referendum mechanism) is established in the Referendum Act of 2002.
Héctor Fernández, director of the Electoral Registry of the TSE, explained that the first thing is to determine that the request does not reach some of the issues prohibited by law to submit a referendum, such as human rights, criminal, State contracts or taxes.
The TSE then sends the text of the bill to the Department of Technical Services of the Legislative Assembly to formally review it, a process that will last eight business days and it passes through all the ‘filters’, the TSE authorizes the collection of signatures through a process and time limit established in the law.
Important to note, in Costa Rica, to date, only one referendum has been held. This is the consultation to approve the Free Trade Agreement with Central America, the Dominican Republic and the United States, (CAFTA) or Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) in Spanish, on October 7, 2007.