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U.S. State Department Issues Travel Advisory to Cancún Following Attacks on Uber Drivers, Passengers

by Aoife O’Riordan

Jan 25, 2023

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eFlyer Lead

The U.S. State Department recently issued a travel warning for tourists venturing to Mexico’s Caribbean coast, including popular cities like Cancún. The warning comes after a series of attacks between frustrated taxi drivers and Uber rideshare customers and drivers.

Reports of medallion taxi drivers in Mexico’s Quintana Roo state harassing and attacking Uber drivers and passengers due to competition continues to be a problem for tourists venturing to the popular tourist areas on the Yucatan Peninsula. Disgruntled taxi drivers have been taking out their anger on others, with one incident leading to the blocking of a main road leading to the hotel district of Cancún on Jan. 23.

The recent blockage of this road forced many tourists to walk or find rides with the police in order to reach the airport safely and on time. U.S. citizens reported sustaining injuries in some of these instances, as well.

Despite the Mexican court ruling Uber a legal operation in the city, the decision increased tensions between Uber drivers and taxi drivers. Around the same time as the court decision, an Uber vehicle with tourists fell victim to an attack by taxi drivers in the Cancún hotel zone, with another attack occurring nearby on Russian tourists in an Uber.

According to the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico, “In the wake of recent incidents involving taxi and Uber drivers in Quintana Roo, U.S. citizens are reminded of guidance provided on Travel.State.gov, specifically about the use of application-based transportation services in Mexico, which states: Application-based car services such as Uber and Cabify are available in many Mexican cities, and generally offer another safe alternative to taxis. Official complaints against Uber and other drivers do occur, however, and past disputes between these services and local taxi unions have occasionally turned violent, resulting in injuries to U.S. citizens in some instances.”

In response to the recent series of attacks, Cancún’s Mayor Ana Patricia Peralta called on taxi drivers to exhibit self-control and to cease such attacks. Even posts on social media depict tourists in the back of police trucks as they are escorted safely to their hotels or the airport.

The rise of Uber in Cancún and neighboring Mexican cities stems from the unsafe practices of local taxis. Overcharging, refusing to go by the meter fare and other illegal practices pushed many tourists to utilize Uber instead of taxis. In fact, the U.S. State Department consistently refers to Uber as a safe alternative in Mexico.

As tension mounts in Cancún following the travel advisory, some changes are already in the works to ensure rides are safer for travelers. Ubers are not allowed at the airport and travelers are not allowed to book rides in the hotel zone. These two locations see the most attacks, and these changes hope to allay the situation in the coming months.

Stay updated on U.S. State Department travel advisories.

Do you have a trip planned to Cancún this year? Do you use Uber or another rideshare app when traveling? Do you prefer using a taxi or rideshare app when traveling? Does the destination determine whether you use a taxi or rideshare app? Tell us your thoughts. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.

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