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.
“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
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.”