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Rio de Janeiro mayor signs bill to ban Uber and others

An UberX driver checks the app to see where other drivers are located.An UberX driver checks the app to see where other drivers are located.
An UberX driver checks the app to see where other drivers are located.Photograph by Evelyn Hockstein — The Washington Post via Getty Images

Ride-hailing company Uber has lost a major battle in Latin America.

On Tuesday, the office of Rio de Janeiro’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, confirmed that he has signed into law a bill that bans ride-hailing services like Uber, according to the New York Times. Starting on Wednesday, vehicles ferrying passengers without being registered with the city for that purpose will be fined as much as 2,000 reais ($490).

Uber has been operating in Rio and three other Brazilian cities for just over a year, and already has faced opposition from Paes. The mayor previously issued a decree to fine Uber drivers and confiscate their vehicles, though a state court suspended it in August. The new law may also face challenges as the state bar has expressed that city-wide bans of services like Uber would be unconstitutional, according to the New York Times.

And even if it remains intact, that may not affect Uber, which has been known to operate in some cities and countries despite legal opposition. Though $490 is a significant amount of money to a driver, the company may just cover the fine if it doesn’t happen too often and it enables it to continue operating while working to regain legal status.

Uber’s presence — or absence — in Rio will also become important when the city hosts the Olympic games next summer, bringing an added influx of people in need of transportation.

The City Council is currently considering an additional bill that would explicitly ban the use of mobile apps to connect passengers with private drivers. Sao Paolo’s mayor is currently considering whether to approve or veto a similar bill, which its City Council passed earlier this month.