Two-hundred Taxi Libre taxistas descended upon the Servicio Médico Forense (forensic medical service) on Friday, October 23, to give support to the family of a taxi driver murdered while cruising for fares Wednesday afternoon. The taxi drivers also want to draw attention to their plight: they are incensed that so many of them are subject to assaults, robberies, and murder while carrying on business around town, particularly in the sprawling colonias that lie outside downtown Tijuana.
The taxistas’ complaint is that police have cut back on patrols in the outlying suburban areas and travel in heavily armed multi-vehicle convoys on main thoroughfares that are more secure. Taxi drivers say they are at the mercy of criminals. The local police force has lost more than a dozen members in shoot-outs and ambushes in the past five months. The drivers intend to demonstrate en masse until something is done to ensure their added protection.
“Besides the fact that they have killed one of us,” said one driver, “a little while ago and not far from here they have assaulted two other drivers. In other words, there is no protection for us, and we can´t work because of the ongoing attacks.”
Some taxi drivers are refusing to pick up fares in the early morning and some are refusing to service certain neighborhoods that they consider too dangerous. The orange-and-white Taxi Libres are considered the most economical free-route taxi service in the city, where a single passenger can be driven from Revolución to the border (around three miles) for two or three dollars, or about half the fare asked by other similar services.