Wounded Uber customer. Yellow driver: “Stop recording or I’m going to smash your phone.”
  • Wounded Uber customer. Yellow driver: “Stop recording or I’m going to smash your phone.”
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A few steps after entering Tijuana through the San Ysidro border, you get hounded by the first barrage of men in yellow shirts and black ties offering taxi services.

Tijuana mayor cracks down and posts on Facebook: "No one is above the law."

Tijuana mayor cracks down and posts on Facebook: "No one is above the law."

“Taxi my friend? Rosarito, Ensenada, Hong Kong I take you. Taxi my friend? Taxi?” Like a recorder stuck on a loop, you can hear the dozens of taxi drivers as you walk away. This annoyance continues for another 30 feet despite ignoring them or after constant declining.

It is common knowledge that to avoid confrontations, Uber clients, and even regular family pick-ups, walk away from the conglomerate of yellow taxis that dominate the border entry to a nearby pick-up spot. This could either be a five-minute walk south near Pueblo Amigo hotel or a five-minute walk west to Estación Federal.


Tijuana taxi drivers

Altercation between Yellow taxi drivers and Uber customers

Altercation between Yellow taxi drivers and Uber customers

This was not the case on a video recorded on Saturday night that has gone viral where it shows taxi drivers verbally assaulting tourists and subsequently attacking them off-camera.

“I’m going to get an Uber,” you hear a man speaking Spanish off-camera. Another man with San Diego Padres apparel is on frame debating with one of the yellow taxi drivers, who tells directly to the camera: “Quiere una verguiza aquí todos o que?” Which translates to “Do you want me to severely beat everyone in here or what?”

“Tranquilo, tranquilo... I just said I was ordering an uber,” the video continues with the tourists demanding the taxi drivers to calm down. “Stop recording or I’m going to smash your phone,” said a young taxi driver in a black jacket.

You can hear a taxi driver off-camera saying “Mira guey en buena onda, te abres a chingar a tu puta madre aqui a la verga o va a valer verga el pedo. ¿Te quieres pegar un tiro conmigo güey? Yo soy amarillo como ve.”

That series of curse words translates to the following: “Look, in a nice way, get the fuck away from here or shit is going to hit the fan. You want to fight me, dude? I am yellow [taxi], how about that?”

The altercation began to escalate when the tourist recording the scene says he is leaving and walks away. One of the taxi drivers follows him saying repeatedly “I want to fight you.” The camera faces the ground and the recording ends.

The tourists ended up in the hospital that night, bleeding, and with multiple fractures.

The aggressors were recognized through social media and it was discovered that one of them is an amateur boxer. Boycotting yellow taxis and publicly lynching the identified aggressors gained traction online.

The current government spearheaded by city mayor PAN’s Juan Manuel “El Patas” Gastelum, which was supported by the conglomerate of yellow taxis, had no choice but to act. As of early Sunday, authorities cleared out what was considered the yellow taxi zone near the border.

Through a sponsor Facebook post, the city mayor declared that “no one is above the law. The citizens have the freedom to choose the public transit that they prefer.” The post included the mug shot of three men with yellow shirts and one with a blue shirt with their eyes blurred.

Taxis have tried to get rid of Uber since its inception through failed legislation, marches that create traffic havoc, and by attacking drivers or vandalizing cars. This was another battle of the war between taxis vs Uber (and any other form of transportation) that started nearly three years ago. The unfortunate casualties this time were five tourists who did the mistake of ordering an Uber in what was known as “taxi territory.”

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dwbat July 4, 2017 @ 5:28 p.m.

Another reason to stay OUT of TJ. Do not go there ever for any reason whatsoever! This is a dangerous place.


Visduh July 4, 2017 @ 10:54 p.m.

As an Americano, I'm utterly uninterested in the local politics that went into this dispute. What I would like to be able to do is go to TJ and feel secure. Guess what? For most of the almost-half century I've lived in SD county, there was no reason to feel secure there. Why that city, a made-for-use place on the border, has always been crime ridden and dangerous for everyone, cannot get its act together, I don't understand. It could be just the opposite, an attractive, safe and secure spot to visit Mexico, and it would be so much better off. It is probably due to the fact that TJ started out as a place for US types to find cheap vice. There was booze during Prohibition, gambling when it was outlawed in most of the US, horse racing when the legit tracks were shut down, and prostitution. And later on, drugs, drugs, and drugs.

Why the wretched city is such a tourist attraction is a mystery to me. The only sorta-rational explanation for it is the city's dark side. In a perverse way, it is popular and sought out because it is dangerous. The cops are crooks--always have been, always will be--and there are many who prey daily on tourists, and not all of the vics are Americans. At one time things there were cheap. How about a full litre of Cuervo for $3? There was a time, but that time has passed.

So dwbat has it right. Stay the hell out of TJ, and you'll live better. Sad to say it, but if the city ever gets its act together, it will be too late to rebuild its reputation. Right now the reputation is one of a human cesspool of a border city. No tourist should have to fear for his or her safety from marauding, disaffected taxi drivers, but that's the slimy city for you.


PDGH July 5, 2017 @ 2:16 p.m.

I was just in Tijuana yesterday and when my husband and I crossed the border, we saw the extraordinary amount of policia and were curious as to why. Now we know. Glad that the government is trying to fix the harassment that pedestrians face walking over, although a shame it had to be because of this situation.

Either way, Tijuana can be an enjoyable day in Mexico if you're aware of your surroundings (as you always should be). My husband and I had a lovely day, enjoying the burgeoning coffee, brewery, cuisine, and art scenes of TJ. And the prices were insanely affordable in comparison to America ($13 for breakfast and coffee for 2 people, $4.50 for 2 pints at Mamut, I could go on and on!!!!)

And when we got turned around heading back, we asked someone on the street for directions, and they were nothing but helpful and courteous. Waiting to cross the border, we had some lovely conversations with locals heading over to watch the fireworks as well.


swell July 5, 2017 @ 8:12 p.m.

My friends and I used to go there in the 60s when it was less regulated. We had some illicit fun and some adrenaline situations. There was danger from the criminals and danger from the policia but few deaths then. Now there are more deaths than in most Middle East regions, but it's mostly criminals against criminals and against investigative reporters.

Matthew, take care...


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