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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Alternative transportation seen in services such as Uber, has led to heated discussions and violence throughout Brazil, and the controversy seems far from over. After Rio de Janeiro announced the ban, in a two-page spread in Sunday’s Folha de S. Paulo, Uber officials ask São Paulo city mayor Fernando Haddad not to sanction a bill which would prohibit the car-sharing service in South America’s largest city.

Taxi drivers protest in Rio de Janeiro non-regulated transport services, such as Uber, photo by Tania Rego/Agencia Brasil.
Taxi drivers protest in Rio de Janeiro non-regulated transport services, such as Uber, photo by Tania Rego/Agencia Brasil.

“You had a lot of courage when implementing bicycle lanes, reducing the maximum speed limits in major thruways and expanding bus corridors… so it would not be for a lack of courage that you would prohibit Uber,” stated the ad, “Uber is an option for those who have no option, not a VIP service for the elite.”

The open letter to Haddad goes on to say that it is a model that has generated an improvement in the lives of millions of people throughout the world, and generated economic opportunities in São Paulo for those hurt with the current economic crisis. The battle between Uber motorists and taxi drivers in the city escalated last month when an Uber motorists was kidnapped by taxi drivers and his car smashed.

Last week, Rio de Janeiro’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, sanctioned a law prohibiting the service, making the city the first one in the country to prohibit the service. According to Paes the city is working on implementing a public service similar to that of the Uber using registered taxi drivers.

In a statement after the sanctioning of the law, Uber representatives in Rio said that the law is unconstitutional and seeks to ban technology, leaving city residents with less options. Other city councils in Brazil, such as the one in Brasilia and Belo Horizonte are also discussing the legality of Uber services.

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